Dr. Anthony Fauci, a leading expert on the US anti-epidemic Covid-19, is expected to deliver 100 million doses of vaccine by the end of this year.
“Then, by early 2021, we expect hundreds of millions of other doses to be put into use,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).
The US begins production before it is certain whether the vaccine will work in humans. If the research results show that the product is safe and effective, the distribution process will take place more quickly.
This model applies to the vaccine of Moderna, the first “candidate” approved for human trials. The next phase of the human test takes place around July, involving 30,000 volunteers, including those aged 18 to 55 and elderly people with underlying medical conditions.
AstraZeneca’s vaccine development project in the UK follows the same schedule.
“I am cautiously optimistic, that with many ‘candidates’ prepared based on different techniques, we will get a viable vaccine,” Dr. Fauci said. He said that although the number of people dying from Covid-19 is high, the majority of patients have recovered, showing that the natural immune response is able to eliminate the virus.
Health-care workers and people who are susceptible to Covid-19, such as the elderly, a history of diabetes, hypertension or obesity, may be given priority in immunization programs.
Initially, when the supply is limited, the distribution will be responsible by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its government units. However, this activity was transferred to pharmaceutical companies when the vaccine was mass-produced.
However, Dr. Fauci warned that it was not clear how long the antibodies produced from the vaccine would last, and that people may need a booster shot.
“The probability is a year, two years, even worse, 6 months,” he said.
If the vaccine is only effective for a short time, pharmaceutical companies and health officials face a great challenge in maintaining a continuous supply.
The race to find ways to prevent and treat Covid-19 is still exciting. WHO has warned that more than one vaccine may be needed to completely reverse the disease.
“What we should avoid thinking about is the concept of ‘silver bullet’ – only one solution can handle the whole situation. It is necessary to combine many new options to respond to the pandemic,” said Dr. David Reese, vice president of biotechnology company Amgen, said.