DENVER — In normal circumstances, it could take roughly seven years to develop a vaccine, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci, the well-known director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and one of the leading experts advising the Trump administration in the fight against the novel coronavirus.
But Fauci remains optimistic that a COVID-19 vaccine could be available early next year, roughly one year after the global pandemic arrived in the U.S.
Colorado Rep. Diana DeGette, D-Denver, asked Fauci about a vaccine Tuesday during a highly publicized hearing in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.
“I feel cautiously optimistic, congresswoman, that we will be successful in getting a vaccine. There’s never a guarantee of that,” Fauci said in response to DeGette’s question. “I still think there is a reasonably good chance that by the very beginning of 2021, that if we’re going to have a vaccine, that we will have it by then.”
DeGette and others also discussed the panel of health officials in the Trump administration about the president’s recent comments about slowing down testing, with both Fauci and Assistant Secretary for Health Brett Giroir saying they have received no such orders.
“Neither the president nor anyone at the administration has instructed or suggested that we should do less testing,” Giroir said. “And we are proceeding in just the opposite. We want to do more testing of higher quality.”
When discussing projections for a second wave expected later in 2020 or early 2021 after more of the country re-opens, Fauci indicated that it’s impossible to predict how that second wave will look and that the focus is still on navigating this first wave.
“I have said multiple times publicly that we are still in the middle of the first wave. So before you start talking about what a second wave is, what we’d like to do is get this outbreak under control over the next couple of months,” Fauci said. “When you get new cases you can contain. And contain means identify, isolate and contact trace.”