- Two coronavirus vaccines have shown impressive interim results, with Pfizer and Moderna both reporting vaccine efficacy exceeding 90%.
- The companies will soon seek emergency use approval and COVID-19 vaccination campaigns might start in the US as soon as December.
- Commenting on vaccine results and the plan for the coming months, Dr. Anthony Fauci warned that there is one thing that might delay the rollout of vaccines in the US: Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the presidential election.
Moderna on Monday became the second vaccine developer to announce that an experimental coronavirus vaccine could prevent infection in more than 9 out of 10 people. According to interim data, Moderna’s drug has an efficacy of 94.5%, which is slightly higher than Pfizer and BioNTech’s interim results. Both drugs will seek Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA in the coming weeks, assuming the final efficacy and safety results are satisfactory. At that point, both companies will have millions of doses ready for emergency use, and well over one billion doses will be manufactured between them in 2021. Other vaccines in Phase 3 trials might also report results soon, and they could be ready for EUA applications as well. Things could still go wrong with any of these experimental drugs, but the promising results shown so far during various testing stages indicate that immunization campaigns are closer than ever.
With all that in mind, Dr. Anthony Fauci warns us that there’s only one development that might delay the COVID-19 vaccine rollout in the US. And sadly, it has nothing to do with the actual vaccine research or the complex logistics behind deploying the drugs across the country.
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The nation’s top health expert said during an interview on NBC’s Today show that the Trump administration’s refusal to start the transition process following Biden’s election win could put the US’s response to the health crises in peril. The news comes at a moment when the virus is reaching new records almost daily. More importantly, the transition delays could directly impact the rollout of vaccines.
“Now we have two vaccines that are really quite effective.”
Watch @SavannahGuthrie’s full interview with Dr. Anthony Fauci about the new coronavirus vaccine candidate results from Moderna, battling COVID fatigue, and the importance of a smooth White House transition. pic.twitter.com/mosSOEyMzo
— TODAY (@TODAYshow) November 16, 2020
“The virus is not going to stop and call a time out while things change,” Fauci said in an interview that followed Moderna’s announcement. “The virus is just going to keep going. The process is just going to keep going. Now, we have two vaccines that are really quite effective. So I think this is a really strong step forward to where we want to be, about getting control of this outbreak.”
Fauci added that we may have efficacy data for other vaccines soon since many of them target the same spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus, just like Moderna and BioNTech’s vaccines.
Dr. Fauci also stressed the importance of coordination between President Trump’s administration and President-elect Joe Biden’s transition team. “Transitions are very important,” he said, adding that he had witnessed several of them during his career. “Passing of the baton without stopping running” will be essential this year, according to Fauci.
“This is something that just is now going in the very, very strong, right direction,” Fauci said of the ongoing vaccine effort. “The vaccines are effective. We want to get it approved as quickly as we possibly can. We want to get doses to people starting in December, and then we want to really get the ball rolling as we get into . We want a smooth process for that, and the way you do that is by essentially having the two groups speak to each other and exchange information.”
President has Trump failed so far to concede to Biden, insisting that voter fraud impacted the results and calling for investigations. Trump administration officials have also signaled support for Trump. One of them is Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Politico reports. Azar said last week that the White House coronavirus task force would only communicate with Biden’s team “if and when there’s a determination that there will be a transition.”