Fauci expresses doubts over potential COVID-19 vaccine efficacy in US due to anti-vaxxers

Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed doubts that a widely-available coronavirus vaccine is going to get society to the level of herd immunity, due to anti-vaxxers and other groups who may not take the vaccine.

In an interview with CNN on Sunday, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, stated that no vaccine will be 100% effective, but closer to 70-75%. The interviewer questioned if that level of vaccine efficacy, combined with the high percentage of people who said they wouldn’t get a vaccine, would help the U.S. achieve herd immunity status.

 Fauci noted that it would be “unlikely.”

“That’s one of the reasons why we have to make sure we engage the community as we’re doing now,” Fauci said, “to get community people to help us, for people to understand that we are doing everything we can to show that it’s safe and that it’s effective, and it’s for the good of them as individuals and in society to take the vaccine.”

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“So we have a lot of work to do because as you well know... there is a general anti-science, anti-authority, anti-vaccine feeling among some people in this country, an alarmingly large percentage of people, relatively speaking.”

Projections as to when a COVID-19 vaccine may be available to the public have been a moving target. Previously, Fauci noted that it would likely be 12 to 18 months before a vaccine was widely available. President Donald Trump announced in May “Operation Warp Speed,” a federal initiative aimed at speeding up the development and distribution of a vaccine. 

Fauci expressed his cautious optimism Sunday on one of many vaccine candidates that could be available and effective by the end of 2020 or the start of 2021.

As of June 29, one vaccine candidate had been approved for limited use, according to the New York Times’ Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker. Three candidates were still in Phase III, the large-scale efficacy test phase, while eight were in the expanded safety trial phase. 

The candidate approved for limited use comes from CanSinoBio, a Chinese company, following promising data from its trials, “leading the Chinese military to approve it on June 25 for a year as a “specially needed drug,” according to the Times.

Fauci’s concerns over anti-vaxxers and other groups not taking a vaccine comes at a time when multiple states and countries are questioning their previous decisions to roll back lockdown measures as COVID-19 cases spike around the world. 

Florida reported more than 5,000 new cases on Monday, while Arizona reported its highest number of new daily confirmed cases yet with close to 4,000. California Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an order that closed bars in several counties across the state, including Los Angeles, due to rising COVID-19 infections.

On Sunday, two troubling global milestones were crossed for the COVID-19 pandemic: more than 10 million infected and more than 500,000 dead from the novel coronavirus around the world.

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