- Coronavirus vaccines won’t be mandatory, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, at a time when many Americans are apprehensive about vaccination in general.
- Fauci said that he’s still cautiously optimistic that at least one effective, safe COVID-19 vaccine will be approved by the end of 2020 or early next year.
- Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison came under fire from anti-vaxxers following comments that he wants to make coronavirus vaccines “as mandatory as you can possibly make it.”
The only way to end the novel coronavirus pandemic is to reach herd immunity, at which point the COVID-19 spread will be significantly reduced. A combination of different methods will get us there, including direct exposure to the virus and vaccines. People who get infected develop a strong immunity to the virus, but the death toll associated with allowing everyone in a community to get the illness would be catastrophic. That’s where vaccines can help, as they could provide a similar immune response to actual exposure to the virus. More than 150 experimental drugs are in the works and a handful of them have already reached the final stage of testing. Assuming the current Phase 3 trials determine that at least some of those vaccines are safe and effective, the first COVID-19 immunization campaigns could start in late 2020 or early 2021, with the general public expected to get access to vaccines beginning a few months later.
That’s one of the great things happening in 2020. The medical advances in COVID-19 therapy can’t be overlooked, and the vaccines and new therapeutics resulting from the ongoing research will save countless lives. But even though COVID-19 immunity will be just one or two shots away once vaccines are available, many people will still resist them. The anti-vaxxer movement is already opposing the types of drugs that could save their lives and prevent them from infecting others. Now, Dr. Anthony Fauci finally addressed whether or not coronavirus vaccines will be mandated.
“I don’t think you will ever see mandating of a vaccine particularly for the general public,” Fauci said during a Healthline townhall meeting, via Forbes. “If someone refuses the vaccine in the general public, you cannot force someone to take it.” The health expert added that hospitals could implement policies where people who are not vaccinated will not be allowed to visit patients.
A Gallup poll said recently that more than a third of Americans are unwilling to get a COVID-19 vaccine. People who refuse vaccination would still risk infection with the novel coronavirus, which could lead to complications and death. Other therapies would likely be approved by the time immunization campaigns start, so people who resist vaccines might have other treatments available to them despite their recklessness.
Even if everybody was willing to get COVID-19 vaccines, there wouldn’t be enough supply to go around for quite some time. Fauci explained that the Advisory Committee of Immunization Practices and a new committee formed by the National Academy of Medicines will decide who receives COVID-19 vaccines at first. “They will decide who will benefit and need [vaccines] the most. And that is done independently of the companies and people involved in the trial,” Fauci said.
Separate from Fauci’s vaccine comments, Australian prime minister Scott Morrison came under fire after saying that he planned to require coronavirus vaccination. He had to walk back those remarks, CNBC reports. The official said on Tuesday that he wanted to make a vaccine “as mandatory as you can possibly make it,” sparking a wave of criticism from anti-vaxxers. “We can’t hold someone down and make them take it,” he clarified on Wednesday, as there are no laws in Australia that would make vaccination compulsory.
Morrison has faced anti-vaxxer campaigns in the past when he pushed the “no jab, no play” legislation that requires children to be immunized in order to be enrolled in childcare. The prime minister explained that coronavirus vaccines would be available for free to Australians, but only after they pass all the required trials. They’ll have to be “as safe as any other” existing immunization in Australia, Morrison said.
Australia inked a deal with AstraZeneca, which manufactures one of the vaccines that have reached Phase 3 trials. The drug will be made in Australia, with production to take about a month or two. The country is also looking at other options, in case AstraZeneca’s Oxford vaccine isn’t ready or approved. Despite vaccine resistance, Morrison still aims to get 95% of the country vaccinated.