Dr. Fauci Is Optimistic That a Coronavirus Vaccine Could be Available by January 2021

Dr. Anthony Fauci is optimistic that a vaccine for the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) might be ready for use by January 2021.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a key member of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, told Savannah Guthrie on the Today show Thursday that the government is working to ensure a possible vaccine is effective before manufacturing it worldwide.

"We want to go quickly but we want to make sure it's safe and effective," he said, adding that having a vaccine by January 2021, "is doable if things fall in the right place."

Fauci, 79, explained to Guthrie that a team is in "early phases of a trial, phase one" of developing a COVID-19 vaccine.

"When you go into the next phase, we're gonna — safely and carefully, but as quickly as we possibly can — try and get an answer as to whether it works and it's safe," he said. "If so, we are going to start ramping up production with the companies involved."

"You do that at risk, in other words you don't wait until you get an answer before you start manufacturing," Fauci explained. "You, at risk, proactively start making it, assuming it's going to work. If it does, then you can scale up and hopefully get to that timeline."

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Fauci pointed out that a vaccine being ready in January 2021 aligns with predictions he made earlier this year.

"Remember, go back in time. I was saying in January and February that it would be a year to 18 months," he said to Guthrie. "January is a year, since it isn't that much from what I originally said."

Fauci also discussed the experimental drug remdesivir, which, according to a clinical trial recently conducted by the National Institutes of Health, may help coronavirus patients recover faster.

The early results for the trial, which have yet to be peer reviewed, indicated a survival benefit for COVID-19 patients — the mortality rate for the group receiving remdesivir was 8 percent compared to 11.6 percent of those that received a placebo.

ULRICH PERREY/POOL/AFP via Getty Vials of the drug Remdesivir

However, Fauci emphasized to Guthrie that while remdesivir helps in COVID-19 recovery, it is not a complete cure for the virus.

"Although the results were clearly positive from a statistically significant standpoint, they were modest,'' he said. "The improvement was a 31% better chance of recovering and getting out of the hospital. That's important, but it's the first step in what we project will be better and better drugs coming along."

"So it's good news, but I was very serious when I said this is not the total answer by any means," he added. "But it's a very important first step."

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As of Thursday afternoon, there are over 3 million confirmed cases of coronavirus in the world — 1 million of which are in the United States alone — while at least 227,600 people have died from the virus globally, according to the Johns Hopkins database.

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