Dr. Anthony Folch, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in a recent interview that the new vaccine will be ready by the end of the year,media BGR reported. The forecast appears to mark a shift in tone for Mr. Folch, who has previously been “cautiously” optimistic about COVID-19 vaccine research.
The health expert said he would not be reassured that the vaccine would be approved for emergency use in the absence of clinical trials to prove that the experimental drug worked as expected and that it was safe for public use.
Three new crown candidate vaccines are currently being tested in the United States, including Moderna, Pfizer/BioNTech and AstraZeneta/Oxford University, but 170 vaccine candidates are under development worldwide. Some of them will soon begin testing in the United States. Recent advances in the emergency use of the COVID-19 vaccine in Russia and China, as well as speculation that U.S. President Donald Trump will approve the vaccine in early November, prompted Folch to respond to questions about the final stages of testing. The infectious disease expert made it clear that emergency use authorizations (EUA) should not be issued until these drugs proved to be safe and effective for general use.
But Folch added that it may be known by November whether some of these Phase 3 drugs are effective, explaining under what conditions final trials can be stopped until the study process is finalized. In a new interview, Fucci said publicly that there will be a safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year.
In a previous interview, Mr. Folch said he was “cautiously optimistic” about the new vaccine. But he now seems more confident. “I’m sure by the end of the year, we’ll be reassured that we do have a safe and effective vaccine,” Fucci said on NBC’s “Today” show.
The health expert explained in an earlier interview that there was no way to tell what would happen to the vaccine, nor was there any guarantee that it would prove effective in the final trial. Phase I and Phase II trials have so far shown that these drugs are safe, but Phase III trials have to confirm this.
In his comments to NBC, Mr. Fucci’s tone shifted notable. Folch previously said he hoped the vaccine would be ready by the end of the year and that the public would be able to start using it within months of 2021 after high-risk groups were immunized. But he now seems more confident that the Phase 3 trial will provide at least one positive response by the end of 2020.
Russia has approved a COVID-19 vaccine for public use, although the phase 3 trial had not yet begun at the time of the announcement. Russia has not yet shared scientific data on the drug. That’s why many experts have criticized Russia’s approach, including Mr. Fuchs. Three drugs in China are in Phase 3 trials, all of which have been given EUA. But these experimental drugs in China have been shown to cause the required immune response, and they are safe. Still, there is no guarantee that any of the candidate vaccines will ultimately help prevent the spread of the disease.
Folch did make it clear in the interview that he would not be reassured that the vaccine would be approved urgently unless clinical trials proved its effectiveness and safety.