SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - Coronavirus vaccine trials are underway, but it's unlikely you'll be able to get one before next year.
ABC 10News spoke with Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, about the next steps in the battle against the Coronavirus.
Team 10 investigative reporter Adam Racusin asked Dr. Fauci when a safe and effective vaccine will be available.
"Well, Adam, we're hoping that's going to be as we get toward the end of this calendar year late fall early winter," he said. "In the United States, two candidates have already started a phase three trial. They started last week on July 27."
Fauci said in the next few months, other companies will be getting into a phase three trial.
"We hope, and I think we can be cautiously optimistic about this, that we will have a safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year, beginning of 2021," he said. "There's never a guarantee Adam, and that's why you do the trials, and the phase three trials are about 30,000 people."
Dr. Fauci explained that the government has invested hundreds of millions of dollars - if not billions on vaccine production even before they know if it will work. So, if it is valid, in early 2021, there could be tens of millions of doses ready to go.
As for who'd get it first, Fauci said they have committees that advise the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They're also adding an extra layer of individuals from the National Academy of Medicine to complement that decision.
"The prioritization is usually for those who would benefit the most and need it the most such as health care providers, those who are vulnerable, the elderly, those with underlying conditions including minority individuals who we know disproportionately suffer much more both in infection rate and in serious consequences," Fauci said.
But even if the vaccine is approved, the speed at which it'll be done makes some people cautious and even uncomfortable. Others have indicated they are against any vaccine.
"We're having what's called community engagement and community involvement," Fauci said. "This has been very successful when we had interventions during the earlier years of HIV/AIDS when there was some skepticism in the community about safety and efficacy in drugs. So we're going to get community leaders to help us get out there and be very transparent in outreaching to the various communities, including minority communities, that may have some skepticism to getting vaccinated."
The vaccine is months away at a minimum, yet positive cases are still rising in some communities.
Dr. Fauci said what's concerning to him is the capability of the virus to be efficient in how it spreads from person to person.
"We've got to take it seriously," he warned.
Team 10 investigator Adam Racusin asked Fauci, while the country is waiting for a vaccine, does he believe school-aged kids should be physically in school.
“Well, I think they should be what we call an overriding default position,” Fauci said. “That it is better, and we should try to the best of our ability to get the children back to school because of the deleterious effects to the children when they’re not in school and the ripple effects to parents of having to stop work to take care of them. However, and I underline the ‘however,’ this should not be sacrificing the health, the welfare or the safety of the children as well as the teachers.”
He continued, “So we live in a big country, and you’ve got to realize that there are some areas locally where the infection is so low that you can get the kids back to school, no problem. You’ve got to be realizing and flexible that there are some areas of the country where the infection activity is so high that locally the individual people responsible may have to make the decision either to not get the kids back to school or to do it in a way that safeguards the children’s health by hybrid between online and in-person, physical separation, indoor-outdoor, morning afternoon. There are a lot of ways to do that. We have to be flexible. It’s not one size fits all with getting the children back to school.”
To learn more about the clinical trials or to volunteer: https://www.coronaviruspreventionnetwork.org/