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Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted the U.S. will have a “safe and effective” coronavirus vaccine by the end of 2020.
"I believe that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year that we will feel comfortable that we do have a safe and effective vaccine," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,” he told NBC’s “Today” on Wednesday.
Fauci said he was positive a vaccine was on the way and hopeful it would be here shortly. He said that, for a number of vaccine trials, there is "enough data that you would really feel comfortable it was safe and effective for the American public."
Addressing coronavirus outbreaks at universities, Fauci urged school officials not to send students home if they test positive.
"Keep them at the university in a place that's sequestered enough from the other students. But don't have them go home because they could be spreading it in their home state," Fauci said.
Fauci urged Americans to be cautious over Labor Day weekend, as it would set the tone for the virus’ outbreak through the fall. “The holiday will determine if the U.S. is able to get running start in battling disease this fall.”
"We have seen after Fourth of July, we saw after Memorial Day, a surge in cases. Wear a mask. Keep social distancing. Avoid crowds," Fauci said.
“What I'd really like to see is a full-court press to get us way down as a baseline, so that when you get these cases in the fall, they won't surge up,” he added.
Fauci, one of the most trusted faces of the coronavirus task force, said he would not be comfortable with a vaccine rushed through under Emergency Use Authorization. “I would not be comfortable with a vaccine unless it was shown in a clinical trial to be safe and effective,” Fauci said.
But the head of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) said on Sunday that he is willing to fast-track a coronavirus vaccine in an effort to make it available as soon as possible.
Speaking to the Financial Times, Commissioner Stephen Hahn said the FDA is willing to authorize a vaccine before the end of Phase Three clinical trials – “as long as officials believed the benefits outweighed the risks,” the newspaper reported. He said the possibility was not linked to any pressure from the Trump administration.
“It is up to the sponsor [vaccine developer] to apply for authorization or approval, and we make an adjudication of their application,” Hahn said. “If they do that before the end of Phase Three, we may find that appropriate. We may find that inappropriate, we will make a determination.”
In this scenario, Hahn said the FDA may grant emergency approval for specific groups “rather than a blanket approval.”
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“Our emergency use authorization is not the same as a full approval,” Hahn said. “The legal, medical and scientific standard for that is that the benefit outweighs the risk in a public health emergency.”
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