A COVID-19 vaccine could become available by early next year, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
During an interview with CBS Evening News on Wednesday, the 79-year-old director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases revealed that a vaccine for the respiratory illness is likely on its way and people will know by November or December if there's a "safe and effective candidate."
"[A vaccine] will likely be [available] within the first quarter of 2021, by let’s say April of 2021," he told the outlet. "But that would be predicated on the fact that all of the vaccines that are in clinical trials have proven to be safe and effective."
"We've made an estimate to have about seven hundred million doses by the end of April," he added. "But that means from all six companies that we're making investments in. That means that all six of those candidates have to have a vaccine that is proven to be safe and effective."
Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson paused their ongoing trials for a COVID-19 vaccine after a participant developed an "unexplained illness."
The pharmaceutical company did not say what the participant’s illness was, but explained in a statement that the temporary pause is "not uncommon in clinical trials." During the course of vaccine or drug development, it is common practice to halt trials for an adverse participant reaction to determine if it was caused by the vaccine dose or due to an unrelated issue.
"Adverse events — illnesses, accidents, etc. — even those that are serious, are an expected part of any clinical study, especially large studies," Johnson & Johnson said. The pause occurs "so there can be a careful review of all of the medical information before deciding whether to restart the study."
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The vaccine, one of the more promising options for the U.S., entered its final stage of clinical trials on Sept. 23.
It is the largest advanced vaccine trial so far, with 60,000 participants enrolled in their Phase 3 trials. Johnson & Johnson had previously said it may be able to determine the vaccine’s effectiveness by the end of 2020. The vaccine requires just one dose, unlike options from Pfizer and Moderna that are administered in two doses, one month apart.
Another promising vaccine, from AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford, was also put on hold last month after a participant from the United Kingdom reportedly developed a spinal cord injury. AstraZeneca resumed their trials in the U.K. on Sept. 12, but they are still waiting on approval from the Food and Drug Administration to begin again in the U.S.
Also during his conversation with CBS Evening News, Fauci discussed precautions people should continue to take as the U.S. heads deeper into fall with increasing positive coronavirus case numbers.
"What we really have to do is double down on the things that I talk about every single day," he said. "Universal wearing of masks, keeping a distance, avoiding crowds and congregate settings, trying to do things outdoors preferentially over indoors and washing your hands frequently."
"They sound very simple," he added, "but people are not doing that and that's the reason why we're seeing the uptick in cases."
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