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How many people need coronavirus vaccines to end the pandemic? Dr. Fauci has answers

Published Nov 18th, 2020 2:51PM EST
Image: Graeme Jennings - Pool via CNP/MEGA

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  • Vaccine breakthroughs from Pfizer and Moderna suggest that we might be able to conquer the coronavirus pandemic sometime next year.
  • Approximately 80% of Americans will need to get vaccinated for the effort to work, according to Dr. Fauci.
  • Pfizer said it will have 50 million doses of its vaccine ready to go before the end of 2020, and more good news is that side effects from both Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccine appear to be mild.

After announcing interim results that said its vaccine was 90% effective at preventing the coronavirus, Pfizer today released even more encouraging figures. Aside from noting that the efficacy of its vaccine was found to be 95% in the final results from its Phase 3 trial — which is right where Moderna’s prevention rate is — Pfizer said that it observed no serious side effects in patients who received the vaccine.

Pending an Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA, Pfizer says it will have 50 million doses ready to go by the end of 2020 and upwards of another 1 billion doses in 2021. Keep in mind that the vaccination schedule for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine requires two shots, which is to say 50 million doses are enough to vaccinate 25 million people.

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With vaccinations potentially ready to be administered to the public as soon as mid-December, there is a chance that life will return to normal by June of next year. But as Dr. Fauci recently articulated, vaccinations will only combat the coronavirus if a majority of Americans choose to take it.

“If we get the overwhelming majority of people taking the vaccine and you have on the one hand an effective vaccine and a high degree of uptake of the vaccine,” Fauci said. “We could start getting things back to relative normal as we get into the second and third quarter of the year, where people can start doing things that were too dangerous just months ago.”

With that said, it’s only natural to wonder: just how many Americans need to take the coronavirus vaccine for it to actually have an impact on the pandemic?

Well, Fauci addressed this point during a recent interview with The New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin. When asked what type of coronavirus vaccine uptake needs to happen to combat COVID-19, Fauci responded:

I would think at least 75%. Hopefully close to 80-85%. What I would love to see it like, let’s get comparable about this. Look at measles. Measles vaccine is 98% effective. Not too different from 94.5%. Everyone in the country, when you look at the recommendations and the implementation of measles, you get vaccinated. Measles is essentially eliminated from the country, and you only see measles outbreaks when people pull back from getting vaccinated. Or you get people coming into the country where they have measles and bring it into a community.

What I would like to see is the overwhelming majority of people get vaccinated so we can essentially really crush this outbreak.

Given Fauci’s figures above, and given that the U.S. has a population of about 330 million people, the U.S. would need at least 264 million people to get vaccinated for the effort to be meaningful.

When asked how it might be possible get people to take a coronavirus vaccine in the face of misinformation about the virus, Fauci answered:

Well obviously saying that is going to be a simple task is avoiding reality. This is going to be a difficult task. We’ve got to do outreach. We have to be transparent. And we have to get political health issues out of the realm of political divisiveness. This is not a political issue. We’ve got to communicate that from above. We’re all in this together as a nation. If one element of the country or multiple elements don’t cooperate with an infections disease, we are going to continue to be in trouble.

Fauci’s full interview can be viewed below:

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.