Countries race to secure COVID vaccine
COVID won’t be a pandemic for “a lot longer” thanks to rapid progress in vaccine development, according to Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official.
The coronavirus could nonetheless remain endemic for a long time, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said at an event organized by Chatham House, a U.K. think tank.
Fauci spoke after Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE reported earlier this week that the vaccine they’re developing is more than 90 per cent effective, according to preliminary results of a broad study. Findings from the trial of a similar shot, developed by Moderna Inc., are expected soon.
“Certainly it’s not going to be pandemic for a lot longer, because I believe the vaccines are going to turn that around,” Fauci said. “Vaccines will help us. What we’ve got to do is just hang on and continue to double down on the public health measures.”
Generally, a pandemic is defined as an infection that puts the global population at risk, while an endemic disease is one that spreads in some areas and not others.
A virus mutation detected in Danish mink raised for their fur probably won’t compromise vaccine development, Fauci said. Last week, Denmark revealed it had found a variant of the virus that officials fear could be so disruptive that it justified ordering the extermination of the country’s mink population of 17 million animals.
Concerns were raised over the mutation because it occurred on the virus’s spike protein, which vaccines target.
Fauci said his conclusions were based on initial research by scientists in the U.S. While the mutation probably won’t compromise vaccines, it could create problems for virus treatments, such as monoclonal antibodies, he said.