Posted on Aug 10, 2020, 6 p.m.
According to White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, the chance of scientists creating a highly effective vaccine that would provide at least a 98% or greater guaranteed protection against COVID-19 are slim.
Around the globe scientists are hoping to develop a vaccine that would be at least 75% effective, but according to Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, one at 60% or 50% effectiveness would be acceptable as well.
“Obviously, we would like to see it much, much higher. But 60% is the standard that you do for the cutoff. That’s not unusual,” he said. “I would like to see the highest percentage that we could possibly get.”
“The chances of it being 98% effective is not great, which means you must never abandon the public health approach,” said Fauci. “You’ve got to think of the vaccine as a tool to be able to get the pandemic to no longer be a pandemic, but to be something that’s well controlled,” he said.
The FDA has said that the agency would authorize a coronavirus vaccine as long as it was found to be safe and it was at least 50% effective. FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said that the vaccine that ends up getting authorized should prove to be more than 50% effective, but it is possible that Americans will end up with a vaccine that on average could reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection by only 50%.
“We really felt strongly that that had to be the floor,” Hahn said on July 30, adding that it’s “been batted around among medical groups.” Adding, “But for the most part, I think, infectious disease experts have agreed that that’s a reasonable floor, of course hoping that the actual effectiveness will be higher.”
If this vaccine turns out to be around 50% effective that would put it on par with those for influenza, but still below the effectiveness of one dose of a measles vaccine which is about 93% effective, according to the CDC.
Public health officials are hoping to know whether one of the potential vaccines under development is safe and effective by the end of December 2020 or early into 2021, but it is not guaranteed.
Fauci cautions that he worries about the durability of a coronavirus vaccine, saying that if this virus acts like other coronaviruses the vaccine may not even provide long term protection. Meanwhile some health officials and governors are strictly stating that there will be no returning to normal until there is a vaccine.
Fauci’s comments echoes that of W.H.O cautioning about the development of vaccines that there may never be a “silver bullet” for this virus which continues to spread worldwide; albeit at slowed rates, if one keeps in mind the botched reporting, faulty testing, and that the commonly used antibody testing does not distinguish between an active case or whether one has had a coronavirus infection within the past 6 months. Also of the trials underway for a vaccine, he said that this does not mean that a vaccine is almost ready, nor does it guarantee that they will even make it passed testing.
“Phase three doesn’t mean nearly there,” Mike Ryan, executive director of the WHO’s emergencies health program, said during a virtual panel discussion with “NBC Nightly News” Anchor Lester Holt hosted by the Aspen Security Forum. “Phase three means this is the first time this vaccine has been put into the general population into otherwise healthy individuals to see if the vaccine will protect them against natural infection.”
W.H.O Director Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus says that while there is some hope for a vaccine, there is never a guarantee. “We cannot say we have vaccines. We may or may not,” he said.
Recently Fauci said that he is cautiously optimistic that scientists will be able to develop a safe and effective vaccine, but he also reiterated that coronavirus may never be eliminated, but working together leaders can bring the virus down to low levels.
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