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Dr. Fauci has an important message about the safety of coronavirus vaccines

Published Nov 20th, 2020 12:20PM EST
Image: Kevin Dietsch - Pool via CNP/MEGA

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  • The first coronavirus vaccine candidates have exceeded even the most optimistic hopes for efficacy and safety, and immunization campaigns could start as soon as next month.
  • Dr. Anthony Fauci stressed during a briefing at the White House on Thursday that the speed of COVID-19 vaccine development did not compromise the safety of the drugs or the scientific integrity of the approval process.
  • ”We need to put to rest any concept that this was rushed in an inappropriate way,” Fauci said, explaining how the vaccine efficacy and safety data was processed. “This is really solid.”

The first novel coronavirus vaccine results are in — and they’re much better than anyone expected. The Pfizer/BioNTech drug has a 95% efficacy according to final data from the Phase 3 trial, while Moderna is at 94.5% according to interim data. Pfizer and BioNTech are submitting their application for emergency authorization to the FDA on Friday, and Moderna will follow soon after. Both vaccines might be approved by December, and the first inoculation campaigns will start immediately after that. But many Americans are still apprehensive about getting a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as it becomes available. Some people worry about the speed at which vaccines were developed and tested, but Dr. Anthony Fauci wants to put everyone’s coronavirus vaccine safety worries to rest. The health expert explained again that the speed of development and testing did not compromise the safety of the drugs.

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Fauci explained during a White House briefing on Thursday that the unprecedented speed in vaccine development did not compromise the safety of the vaccine or the scientific integrity of the process. The speed “was a reflection of the extraordinary scientific advances in these types of vaccines which allowed us to do things in months that actually took years before,” Fauci said. “I really want to settle that concern that people have about that.”

The health expert explained that an independent body of people “who have no allegiance to anyone, not to the administration, not to me, not to the companies” were the first to review the data from the final stages of clinical trials. It was these independent experts who “deemed it to be sound.”

Moving forward, the FDA will examine the data from Phase 3 trials “very carefully” with assistance from the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee. That will all happen before the agency decides to grant an EUA and eventually a vaccine license.

“So we need to put to rest any concept that this was rushed in an inappropriate way,” Fauci said. “This is really solid.”

The infectious disease expert said the results showed “impressive efficacy,” which “should motivate individuals to realize that this is something you want to participate in.” According to LiveScience, a Gallup poll released on November 17th said that about 58% of Americans are willing to get a COVID-19 vaccine. The figure is up from a similar survey that said a few months ago that only 50% of respondents would get a vaccine.

Noting that “help is on the way,” Fauci made it clear that people will have to continue to respect the measures set in place to reduce the spread of the virus until vaccines arrive. “We need to actually double down on the public health measures as we’re waiting for that help to come,” he said. In previous remarks, Fauci explained that people would have to continue wearing face masks and practicing social distancing even after being vaccinated.

According to Fauci, emergency vaccinations will be available to at-risk groups of people in the US by the end of December. He said he expects that there will be enough doses by April for average Americans to get vaccinated.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.