Fauci says a new COVID-19 vaccine could be ready for US approval within weeks

fauci vaccine timeline
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
  • Another COVID-19 vaccine could be ready in the US within weeks, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Sunday.
  • The vaccines made by the drugmakers AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are in clinical trials.
  • President-elect Joe Biden's goal of 100 million doses in 100 days is "absolutely a doable thing," Fauci told NBC News' "Meet the Press."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

The US could have two more COVID-19 vaccines within weeks, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC News' "Meet the Press" on Sunday.

Fauci predicted that the drugmakers AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson would submit their clinical-trial data to the Food and Drug Administration as soon as this week and within the next few weeks "at most," assuming the Data and Safety Monitoring Board, an independent board of experts, gives the go-ahead.

Although Fauci was asked about both vaccines, it's possible he was just referring to Johnson & Johnson's, which appears to be closer to submitting data than AstraZeneca. Data for AstraZeneca's shot is not expected to be ready until at least March because its trial is still recruiting participants.

Moncef Slaoui, the outgoing chief advisor to President Donald Trump's vaccine initiative known as Operation Warp Speed, said in December that the vaccine developers could seek FDA emergency-use authorization by February, with a rollout in April. Johnson & Johnson has said it is on track for March rollout.

Read more: What's coming next for COVID-19 vaccines? Here's the latest on 11 leading programs.

The FDA has already given the green light to two COVID-19 vaccines: one from Pfizer and BioNTech, and one from Moderna. More than 12 million shots have been given to Americans so far, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The AstraZeneca shot is a two-dose shot, like Pfizer's and Moderna's, and has already been approved in the UK, where on January 4 an 82-year-old named Brian Pinker was the first in the world to receive the vaccine outside a trial.

It was on average 70% effective at preventing people from falling ill with COVID-19 in trials, according to the vaccine maker, which created confusion when announcing that a mistake caused some trial participants to receive a different dosing regimen from the rest.

Johnson & Johnson's shot requires only one dose. Early data indicated it could help protect against COVID-19, but it's not clear how it compares with other vaccines because large clinical trials are still ongoing.

Fauci, who is set to become incoming President Joe Biden's chief science advisor, said the new administration would use "whatever mechanisms we can" to reach Biden's goal of 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office.

Speaking with the "Meet the Press" host Chuck Todd, Fauci said that goal was "absolutely a doable thing."

Fauci recommended that Americans double down on public-health measures while they wait for a vaccine, especially because new coronavirus variants, such as the one first identified in the UK but now found in 55 countries including the US, are probably more contagious.

"Be very compulsive, as the president-elect says, at least for the first 100 days and maybe more, everybody wear a mask, keep the distance, avoid congregate settings," he said.

More than 2.03 million deaths from the virus have been reported worldwide, per Johns Hopkins University, including more than 397,000 in the US.

Fauci urged people to get immunized to protect them from the disease.

"If there was ever a clarion call for people to put aside vaccine hesitancy, if we can get the overwhelming majority of the population vaccinated, we'd be in very good shape," he said.

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