- Dr. Anthony Fauci said in an interview that a coronavirus vaccine might be widely available as soon as January.
- A drug that could prevent COVID-19 infections might be here earlier than expected everything goes according to plan.
- The infectious disease expert said that companies developing vaccines might start mass-producing them before finishing clinical trials in the hope that they receive regulatory approvals.
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Dr. Anthony Fauci gave the world some good news earlier this week when he revealed the preliminary results of an extensive remdesivir study. The drug has proved to be effective against the novel coronavirus and can significantly reduce the recovery time for some COVID-19 patients. However, there is no evidence so far that suggests remdesivir can reduce the mortality rate of COVID-19. It can be speculated that the earlier you diagnose a patient and put him or her on a therapy that includes remdesivir, the less likely the chances that he or she might develop complications. But more research will be needed to see what happens if the drug is administered early enough.
Still, having remdesivir as a new standard therapy is precisely the kind of progress the world needs until vaccines are ready. And now, Fauci says that millions of COVID-19 vaccines might be ready much sooner than expected.
A vaccine is the only miracle drug for the novel coronavirus. Vaccines are already being fast-tracked for the new disease, and this interactive New York Times article shows exactly how many years the world is saving on the development of COVID-19 vaccines. However, these drugs need to be tested in order to ensure that they’re not just effective against the vaccine, but also safe to take. That’s why we keep seeing estimates of 12-18 months before any vaccine is likely to be made available to the general public.
In the past few days, we’ve heard of two different vaccine types that could be ready this fall for emergency use. One is a candidate from Oxford that uses a different virus to deliver the COVID-19 payload inside the body, which would then trigger an immune response. The other is an mRNA vaccine from Germany that relies on genetics to provide COVID-19 immunity. Even before that, Moderna speculated that its mRNA vaccine could also be available for emergency use as soon as this fall. These are just three drugs of the 90 vaccine candidates out there, and all of them are being tested on humans.
Fauci didn’t name any company in his interview with NBC’s Today Show, but he said that it was “in the realm of possibility” to have a potential vaccine available widely by January.
He also explained there’s a huge caveat. Vaccine makers would have to go ahead with the production of the new medicines before receiving regulatory approval. “In other words, you don’t wait until you get an answer before you start manufacturing. You at risk — proactively — start making it, assuming it’s going to work,” Fauci said. “And if it does, then you can scale up and hopefully get to that timeline.”
Fauci’s statement echoes what Bill Gates said a number of times in recent weeks. The former Microsoft exec who’s now working on the coronavirus health crisis with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation said he’s willing to invest billions in manufacturing for as many as seven vaccine candidates, even though only one or two of them might be approved for public use. Gates argued that the monetary sacrifice is worth it because it can help humanity save trillions in economic costs.
“I think [January] is doable if things fall in the right place,” Fauci said.