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Fauci: With coming vaccines, COVID-19 won’t be pandemic ‘for a lot longer’

But warns: “I doubt we’re going to eradicate this"

Updated: November 12, 2020 - 1:59pm

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country's top infectious disease scientist, is noted for his cautious approach to the coronavirus but is optimistic about the recent reports from pharmaceutical companies on vaccine testing.

“Certainly it’s not going to be a pandemic for a lot longer because I believe the vaccines are going to turn that around,” Fauci said at a virtual health conference hosted by London-based think tank Chatham House.

Pfizer Inc. on Monday said results from its most recent human trials on its coronavirus vaccine show it is more than 90% effective.

Despite Fauci's optimism, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director who served on the White House Coronavirus Task Force, is has a measure long-term outlook about the pandemic.

“I doubt we’re going to eradicate this,” he said. “I think we need to plan that this is something we may need to maintain control over chronically. It may be something that becomes endemic that we have to just be careful about.”

Pfizer also says it is now on track to ask health regulators for permission to begin distributing and selling the vaccine – which is two shots weeks apart – by the end of the month, if continued trials demonstrate that the vaccine is safe. 

The Food and Drug Administration requires a company to monitor at least 50% of a study's subjects for side effects for a period of two months before making a safety assessment of the vaccine. Pfizer says it is in on track to collect that data by next week, and could apply for FDA emergency authorization soon after that.

The safety and efficacy check of Pfizer's vaccine was conducted by an independent panel of experts, called a data-safety monitoring committee. They shared their findings with the company on Sunday. 

Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine were the first in the U.S. to participate in the trial of the Pfizer vaccine, beginning in May.

“When we saw the news, when everybody else saw it yesterday morning, only six months into this effort, we were really thrilled,” Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, the Director of the Center for Vaccine Development and Global Health at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told the TV station on Tuesday.

Researchers at the university said of the 40,000 people who were administered the vaccine, just 94 developed COVID-19. 

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