As companies race to develop and test COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of America's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), has shared an optimistic timeline for their availability.
According to him, given the current progress, we are looking at about 200 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines by 2021.
At least 4-5 vaccines in trials, Moderna leading the way
In an interview with the Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Dr. Fauci spoke on the situation of vaccine development.
He said, currently, at least 4-5 candidate vaccines are moving through or towards clinical trials, with Moderna Therapeutics' mRNA-1273, which has been developed at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Vaccine Research Center, leading the way.
After the beginning of Moderna's Phase-3, or possibly even simultaneously, other candidates will be moving through advanced stages of trials, Dr. Fauci said.
"The AstraZeneca candidate developed in the UK, the one from Oxford, that's going to be very closely aligned," he said, adding that "some other studies are also going to start...as you get towards the end of the summer."
Cautiously optimistic that a vaccine will be prepared
On the basis of the situation of candidate trials he is aware of, Dr. Fauci said, he is "cautiously optimistic" that the world is going to have a "vaccine that shows a degree of efficacy which would make it deployable."
However, he emphasized that he is more concerned about the duration of the vaccine's response rather than if there will be any protective response.
Per Dr. Fauci, response longevity is a point of concern because the duration of protection upon recovery from the most benign coronaviruses has just been around 1-2 years, as opposed to other infections that are associated with at least 15-20 years of protection.
That said, Dr. Fauci clarified that they will "start manufacturing doses of the vaccines way before we even know that the vaccine works."
"We may know whether it's efficacious or not by maybe November-December...[and] by that time, we hopefully would have close to 100 million doses. And by the beginning of 2021, we hope to have a couple of hundred million doses," he stated.