Once a coronavirus vaccine is approved as safe and effective, Americans should have widespread access within a reasonable time, Dr. Anthony Fauci assured lawmakers on Friday.
Appearing before a House panel investigating the nation’s response to the pandemic, Fauci expressed “cautious” optimism that a vaccine would be available, particularly by next year.
“I believe, ultimately, over a period of time in 2021, that Americans will be able to get it,” Fauci said, referring to the vaccine.
There will be a priority list for who gets early vaccinations. “I don’t think we will have everybody getting it immediately,” Fauci explained.
But “ultimately, within a reasonable time, the plans allow for any American who needs the vaccine to get it,” he added.
Under direction from the White House, federal health authorities are carrying out a plan dubbed Operation Warp Speed to manufacture 300 million doses of a vaccine on a compressed timeline.
Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease official, said a quarter-million people have expressed interest in taking part in studies of experimental vaccines for the coronavirus.
He said that 250,000 people have registered on a government website to take part in vaccine trials, which are pivotal for establishing safety and effectiveness. Not all patients who volunteer to take part in clinical trials are eligible to participate.
Fauci was joined by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention head Dr. Robert Redfield and Health and Human Services testing czar Adm. Brett Giroir.
Redfield said it was in the public health best interests of K-12 students to get back in face to face learning. “There’s really very significant public health consequences of the school closure.”
Fauci fought back against questioning from Republican Rep. Jim Jordan of Ohio, who repeatedly pressed the top health official on whether protests in Portland and other cities should be curbed to stop the virus spread.
“Any crowd, whether it’s a protest, any crowd when you have people close together without masks is a risk,” Fauci said.
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