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Dr. Anthony Fauci Talks to Healthline About COVID-19 Vaccines

Share on PinterestDr. Anthony Fauci discussed the COVID-19 pandemic at a Healthline town hall.

  • Dr. Anthony Fauci continues to be cautiously optimistic that the United States will know if there’s an effective, safe vaccine around the end of 2020 or the start of 2021.
  • Multiple vaccine candidates are now being evaluated in phase III trials to ensure they’re safe and effective.
  • Fauci also touched on major challenges in the fight against COVID-19, pointing out that contact tracing in the United States is still not where it needs to be.

In a live town hall hosted by Healthline on Tuesday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading epidemiologist, discussed the current state of the pandemic and where we’re headed.

Joining Fauci was Dr. Raj Dasgupta, a critical care pulmonologist and internal medicine physician with the University of Southern California, and Dr. Timothy Legg, a clinical psychologist based in Binghamton, New York.

The conversation, which was moderated by Healthline’s Medical Affairs Director Dr. Elaine Hanh Le, dug into how COVID-19 has affected mental health, child care and schools, and frontline workers.

The experts also explored the most effective treatments being used against the new coronavirus along with what to expect in regard to future treatments and a vaccine.

Here are the main takeaways.

Fauci continues to be cautiously optimistic that the United States will know if there’s an effective, safe vaccine around the end of 2020 or the start of 2021.

By the end of 2021, Fauci expects we’ll have enough doses for anyone who wants one, should a vaccine be approved.

The reason why, Fauci said, is because of the promising results we’ve seen in the preliminary research conducted on multiple vaccine candidates.

Studies have shown that some of the vaccines can induce neutralizing antibodies in people that are as protective as or potentially better than convalescent plasma, which is present in people who’ve recovered from COVID-19, according to Fauci.

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“That’s not a guarantee, but it’s a good predictor that things will go well,” Fauci said.

Multiple vaccine candidates are now being evaluated in phase III trials to ensure they’re safe and effective.

The federal government has also invested hundreds of millions of dollars to jump-start the manufacturing process so if and when a vaccine is proven, it can be distributed quickly.

When asked about Russia’s approval of a vaccine, Fauci said it’s crucial to understand the difference between having a vaccine versus proving a vaccine works.

The Russian vaccine was approved before a critical phase III trial was performed, meaning it’s unclear if it is safe or if it even works.

Fauci said it takes time to adequately test a vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.

“We have to be careful when you hear from Russia or China or anyplace else that they have a vaccine that they know works. They may have a product that they’re willing to take the risk to give it to people without necessarily showing yet that it’s effective or that it’s safe,” Fauci said.

To achieve herd immunity, a vast majority of people will need to get the vaccine in the United States.

But there are growing concerns that a substantial portion of the U.S. population, particularly those within the anti-vaccine movement, may refuse to get vaccinated when a shot becomes available.

Fauci doesn’t think the government would ever mandate a vaccine for the general public.

“If someone refuses the vaccine in the general public, then there’s nothing you can do about that,” Fauci said, noting you can’t force a person to get vaccinated.

In the medical setting, however, hospitals are able to require healthcare providers get vaccinated before they see patients.

Fauci said we’ve got two solid treatment options for people with advanced COVID-19: remdesivir and the corticosteroid dexamethasone.

What we need now are proven treatments for people with newly contracted infections, Fauci said. There are many treatment options currently being tested: direct antivirals, monoclonal antibodies, convalescent plasma, hyperimmune globulin.

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In studies, remdesivir has shown to reduce the amount of time it takes people hospitalized with lung issues to recover and leave the hospital.

Dexamethasone has also been shown to reduce the death rate in people who are on ventilators or oxygen support.

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