Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious disease expert, said that a coronavirus vaccine could be available for the nation's highest-risk individuals as soon as December.
Fauci's comments in a Tuesday interview with MSNBC come a day after Pfizer announced that a vaccine being developed in partnership with BioNTech proved more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 in a Phase 3 clinical trial.
Pfizer’s chief executive has said that it could have 30 million to 40 million doses of the vaccine before the end of the year, enough for 15 million to 20 million people to get an initial shot and a booster three weeks later, The New York Times reported.
Health care and front-line workers, as well as groups that are at higher risk for infection, or are more vulnerable to the virus ‒ such as the elderly ‒ are likely to get the first round of vaccines made available to the public.
The development is a significant step toward combating the global pandemic at a time when many states are seeing a startling rise in cases and health officials have warned of an imminent second wave of infections.
Pfizer still needs the Food and Drug Administration to greenlight the vaccine, for which it is expected to apply by the end of this month.
President Trump has said he will fast-track the approval by the FDA to get vaccines to Americans as quickly as possible, as the U.S. topped 10 million cases, recording over 100,000 new cases for the seventh straight day on Tuesday.
Pfizer and BioNTech project they can produce 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine per year, not enough for the entire world population, but a benchmark nonetheless for scientists and developers to mimic.
"I trust Pfizer; I trust the FDA," Fauci said, adding that he would be willing to take the vaccine himself. "These are colleagues of mine for decades — career scientists."
Fauci, a member of the White House's coronavirus task force and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, later told CNN's Jake Tapper that the average American could have access to a vaccine as early as April 2021.