Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, explained in an interview with The Hill the risks behind the development of a vaccine against the coronavirus disease.
He said that jumping ahead and making investments in vaccines before they are “safe and effective” mean that “you’re taking a risk, and the risk is a financial risk, it’s not a safety risk”.
The health expert cautioned that the rapid development of a safe and effective vaccine against the virus is not guaranteed, adding that the US government has taken the “unprecedented step of beginning production on promising vaccine candidates” that have not yet been scientifically proven to be effective and safe.
“In the standard way you develop a vaccine, you do not make major investments in the next step until you are fairly sure that the prior step works and you are satisfied with it,” Fauci said.
Fauci said that following the correct steps could lengthen the process of preparing and delivering the vaccine by several months. He suggested that it is better to first ensure that “everything works” before moving to the step of “manufacturing the doses”.
The doctor also pointed out that even promising vaccine candidates “fail more often than they succeed”.
“Any time you develop a vaccine, you always remember, you always have a question that you may not get an effective vaccine. Even if you do everything right and you do everything on time, there’s no guarantee you’re going to have an effective vaccine,” the top US doctor said.
Fauci noted that talking about having a vaccine by the end of this year or the beginning of next year, means “assuming that the vaccine is actually effective”.
According to The Hill, the Trump administration is planning to investigate the production of those vaccine candidates that it considers the most promising, as phase-three trials are expected to begin in coming weeks and months.
Fauci believes that if the production of vaccines begins and intensifies this summer, 100 million doses could be ready by the end of the year “and maybe a couple of hundred million doses by the beginning of next year”.
“I mean that's aspirational,” he said. “The companies think that they can do that with the right financial backing”.
The top health expert expressed his concern about the way that US President Donald Trump is characterizing the country’s effort of developing a COVID-19 vaccine by referring to it as “Operation Warp Speed”, noting that the president seeks to break all records for the speedy development of the drug.
“I'm a little concerned by that name because it can imply by warp speed that you're going so fast that you're skipping over important steps and are not paying enough attention to safety, which is absolutely not the case,” he said. “But in this program of hastening the development of the vaccine, it's something that we do feel actually is feasible to get the kinds of doses that you would need”.
As of Friday, the Unites States has registered over 1.6 million COVID-19 infections with at least 95,979 killed.