The nation’s top infectious disease expert said Tuesday the Pfizer vaccine, which is reportedly more than 90% effective, could be available to everyone by April 2021.
Dr. Anthony Fauci explained in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN that vaccinations have to go through a “tried and true” process of prioritization.
“That happens all the time when there are vaccinations in short supply or when you can’t do everyone at once,” Fauci said of any vaccination rollout.
The process is overseen by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention with help from an advisory committee known as the ACIP (Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices).
Fauci continued that while a final determination has not been made, he anticipates health providers will be the highest priority for the vaccine, followed by people with “underlying comorbidities” that put them at high risk for serious infection, followed by the elderly, people who are “part of an important infrastructure in society" (ie. people working in nursing homes), and then school teachers and school children.
“And as you go down the line, you have people who are essentially normal,” Fauci said. “Those people will be phased in over the next few months.”
According to reports, Pfizer’s vaccine still needs to be approved for emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration. If it is approved, the company intends to manufacture enough doses to immunize 15 to 20 million people by the end of this year.
When Tapper asked when people lowest on the priority list, like himself, could get the vaccine, Fauci said by April.
“The one thing we were concerned about was that we have a lot of people in this country who may not want to get vaccinated right away,” Fauci said. “It may take well into the second or third quarters [of the year] to finally get people to be convinced to get vaccinated.”
But if people want the vaccine, Fauci anticipates anyone can get it by early April.
In another interview on NBC, Fauci promised that if the data is solid, he would take the vaccine.
“I trust Pfizer and the FDA," Fauci said. “These are colleagues of mine for decades. They’re careered scientists. If they approve this data, if they say this data is solid, then I promise I will take the vaccine and I recommend that my family take the vaccine.”
Fauci’s comments came as the US hit a record number of coronavirus hospitalizations and surpassed 1 million new confirmed cases in just the first 10 days of November amid a nationwide surge of infections that shows no signs of slowing.