Dr. Anthony Fauci testifies before the Senate on the federal response to the pandemic
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LONDON – The White House's coronavirus advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci said Thursday a vaccine against the pandemic was on the horizon, but he warned it may not be enough to eradicate the disease.
At a webinar by the Chatham House think tank, America's leading infectious disease expert dismissed the idea that people could become complacent after a breakthrough in the race for a safe and effective vaccine.
"I think the opposite … I really do," said Fauci. "The cavalry is coming, but don't put down your weapons, you'd better keep fighting because they're not here yet. Help is on the way, but it's not here yet."
"For me this is more of an incentive for" Please don't give up. Don't despair, the end is in sight "as opposed to:" Hey, we can get started, don't worry about anything. " # 39; We're not good to go. We need to keep reduplicating public health policies, "he added.
Fauci's comments came three days after Pfizer and BioNTech said early results showed their vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective at preventing Covid infections.
The effectiveness of the vaccine was significantly higher than scientists had hoped. Fauci had previously said that one that is 50% or 60% effective would be acceptable.
Major challenges remain before a vaccine can be introduced, but developments have raised expectations that one could possibly be administered before the end of the year.
It is hoped that a vaccine can help end the coronavirus pandemic that killed over 1.28 million people worldwide.
"I doubt we'll root this out."
The strong trial results from Pfizer and BioNTech are due to an increase in coronavirus cases showing no signs of slowing.
In the US, newly confirmed infections are reaching an all-time high, with well over 100,000 cases per day. In the first 10 days of November, more than 1 million new cases were reported nationwide.
There are currently 65,368 people hospitalized with the disease in the United States, according to the COVID Tracking Project. That is a record high and significantly more than reported during the respective highs in April and July.
To date, the U.S. has recorded more than 10.4 million cases of the coronavirus and over 241,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University.
"What needs to happen is a new way of communicating that people can understand," said Dr. David Heymann, who headed the Infectious Diseases Division of the World Health Organization during the SARS epidemic in 2002-2003, during the same online session.
"Political leaders have political ambitions and public health leaders and technical leaders have ambitions to stop the outbreak and the two need to be reconciled in some way," he continued.
"The public doesn't understand everything about vaccines … including the fact that this disease can become endemic even with vaccines."
A medical worker treats a patient suffering from coronavirus in the COVID-19 intensive care unit (ICU) at the United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC) on November 10, 2020 in Houston, Texas.
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When Fauci was asked how he interpreted his role in guiding the US through the coronavirus crisis, the 79-year-old pondered over 36 years as director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases.
"We've been through a lot of things at this institute," he said, citing responses to HIV, the 2001 anthrax attacks, Ebola, Zika virus, and pandemic flu, among others.
"I see my future in doing the same if we deal with this outbreak. We essentially quieted it down, but like David said it doesn't mean eradicating it," Fauci said, referring to Heymann's comments .
"I doubt we'll get rid of this. I think we need to plan that this is something that we may need to maintain chronic control over. It can be something that becomes endemic and we just have to be careful about it," he continued.
"It certainly won't be a pandemic for long because I think vaccines will change that."