Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious-disease doctor, said that Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine trial’s success may help persuade more people to get vaccinated amid a surge in new coronavirus cases. He said in an interview that Pfizer’s vaccine, developed in collaboration with Germany’s BioNTech, has “an extraordinarily high degree of efficacy, more than 90%, close to 95%,” and could play a key role in overcoming reluctance to take pandemic vaccines that have been developed at top speed.
According to Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the U.S. may begin offering the vaccine to priority groups at the end of December. The initiative hopes to slow down the spiking infections that have reached a record 190,000 new daily cases this week. The Trump administration has purchased and funded the development of doses from Pfizer and other drugmakers to make enough supplies for most Americans by year-end.
Researchers including Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, had earlier commented that the name of the administration’s effort, Operation Warp Speed, may have created an impression that corners are being cut to create a vaccine, undermining public confidence.
A national survey by the Washington-based Pew Research Center revealed in September that only about half of the U.S. adults were ready to take a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 if it were available, down from 72% in May. A survey published last month in the journal Science, of people in 19 countries found that 71.5% of participants would probably take a Covid-19 vaccine, with acceptance ranging from almost 90% in China to less than 55% in Russia.
“We’ve got to convince people to take the vaccine because if you have a highly effective vaccine and only 50% of the people take it, you’re not going to have the impact that you’d need to essentially bring a pandemic down to such a low level that it’s no longer threatening society. And that’s the goal of a vaccine,” Bloomberg reported him saying. More than twenty candidate vaccines have entered the final stage of patient studies that new pharmaceutical products are usually required to undergo regulatory approval. Fauci said that even though the late-stage trials may take only a few months, participants and others who receive experimental vaccines will be followed for as long as two years as part of safety monitoring and surveillance.