If approved by the FDA, a vaccine could begin getting distributed in December

By Ashley Boucher
November 30, 2020 10:44 PM
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Mark Zuckerberg, Anthony Fauci
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Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday that the majority of Americans who wish to get vaccinated for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) should be able to by April or May of next year.

Speaking with Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in an interview Monday, Fauci explained the upcoming rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"So right now, the federal government is contracted with multiple companies to make about 600 million doses of vaccine, which would be good enough for around 300 million people getting vaccinated — hence, everyone that you would imagine that would want to get vaccinated in the country would have a vaccine," the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.

Fauci went on to explain that high-priority people — including essential workers, health care providers and those considered high-risk — will be the first to receive a vaccine in December.

"And as we get into January, the next tier. And February, then March. By the time we get to April, we would likely have taken care of all the high priority and then the general population — the normal, healthy young man or woman, 30 years old that has no underlying conditions — can walk into a CVS or to a Walgreens and get vaccinated," he said.

"I would think as we get to April and May that we likely would have, for those who want to get vaccinated, the overwhelming majority of the people that want to get vaccinated," Fauci continued — adding that the challenge will be convincing people to get the vaccine.

"What you really want is what we have: a highly efficacious vaccine — but you also want 75 to 85 percent of the people to get vaccinated," he explained, saying that if enough people do get the vaccine, then "by the end of the second quarter of the year you could have enough protection to this country that the pandemic as we know it will be well, well suppressed, below the danger point."

On Sunday, Fauci warned Americans to expect a surge in COVID-19 cases following a week of travel for the Thanksgiving holiday, despite guidance to stay home.

"We likely will have an increase in cases as we get into the colder weeks of winter and as we approach the Christmas season," Fauci said in an interview with ABC's This Week.

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against indoor gatherings of large groups and continues to recommend six feet of distance and face coverings at all times.

Fauci said that these recommendations will likely continue through the New Year.

"I can't see how we're not going to have the same thing," he said. "When you have the kind of inflection that we have, it doesn't all of a sudden turn around like that."

"And perhaps even two or three weeks down the line, we may see a surge upon a surge," he added. "We don't want to frighten people, but that's just the reality."

In his interview with Zuckerberg on Monday, Fauci doubled down on asking people to stay home, despite the holiday season.

"If I recommend one thing [for the holiday season] it’s that we diminish, to the extent possible, travel — and keep gatherings indoor to the immediate family unit," Fauci said.

"That seems to be, unfortunately, the antithesis of the Christmas, the New Year, the Hanukkah season, because you really want to bring friends around the fireplace, people sitting down together," Fauci acknowledged. "Unfortunately, that's the perfect setup for people who may have no symptoms, and innocently and inadvertently come into the home and infect someone."

On Monday, Moderna requested emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration for its vaccine, the New York Times reported Monday. If approved, the vaccine could start to be distributed as early as December 21. Pfizer requested the same authorization earlier this month.

As of Monday, there have been more than 13.6 million cases of COVID-19 in the United States, according to data from the New York Times. More than 267,000 people have died from the virus.

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