Fauci predicts no COVID-19 vaccine until at least January and warns of a 'whole lot of pain' if US cases continue to surge

Fauci predicts no COVID-19 vaccine until at least January and warns of a 'whole lot of pain' if US cases continue to surge
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.Alex Edelman / AFP via Getty Images
  • A vaccine for COVID-19 isn't likely to be available in the US until at least January, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious-disease expert.
  • Several vaccines are in late-stage trials, and they could be granted emergency authorization in "January, could be later — we don't know," he told the Journal of the American Medical Association.
  • Fauci also warned that if new cases continued to surge, "there's going to be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalizations, and deaths."
  • Fauci said hospitals in big cities such as New York and Philadelphia were better equipped to deal with rising infections but other regions of the country could struggle.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US's top infectious-disease expert, said Wednesday that a COVID-19 vaccine wasn't likely to be available until January.

He also warned that cases were "going in the wrong direction" — and said that without a big change, "there's going to be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalizations, and deaths."

The five companies in the final stages of trials for a vaccine, including Moderna and Pfizer, probably won't have final data ready until December, Fauci said in an interview Wednesday with the Journal of the American Medical Association.
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At least two of those five companies would then need to apply for an emergency-use authorization from the US Food and Drug Administration to move forward with the vaccine, Fauci said.

"Exactly when the EUA will be granted — could be January, could be later — we don't know," he said.

This contrasts with predictions on the other side of the Atlantic: The UK government has expressed hope Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine could be ready in December, according to a Thursday report in The Times.
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Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said Tuesday that the vaccine was in the "last mile" of development but urged "patience."

The US ranks second in the world in new daily reported cases, and hospitals are struggling to cope with a surge in infections. The country has a weekly average of nearly 69,000 new cases a day — an increase of more than 60% since October 1. Later Wednesday evening, Fauci told CNBC that the US was "going in the wrong direction."
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"If things do not change, if they continue on the course we're on, there's going to be a whole lot of pain in this country with regard to additional cases and hospitalizations, and deaths," he said.

Fauci said larger cities like New York and Philadelphia were better equipped to deal with the pandemic because of their larger hospitals. But the Pacific Northwest and the Midwest could struggle with the increase in infections, he said.

"They never had the kind of hospital and intensive-care facility and flexibility that some of the larger hospitals in larger cities have," Fauci said. "They're concerned that if the trajectory continues, they may be in a position where they are going to be strapped for things like intensive care beds."
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During an MSNBC interview days earlier, Fauci said the general public might not get a COVID-19 vaccine until mid-2021.

Fauci said he was "cautiously optimistic" that a vaccine would be deemed safe and effective by the end of November to the beginning of December. But he added: "If you talk logistically about getting it to the major proportion of the population, that will be obviously several months into 2021."

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