Fauci Says Coronavirus Vaccine Development Speed is Not Compromising Safety

Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top infectious disease expert and member of the White House coronavirus task force, has said the speed at which vaccines are being developed does not affect their safety.

Fauci made the comments in an interview on CNN's The Axe Files with David Axelrod, hosted by the director of the University of Chicago Institute of Politics.

The interview released on Thursday came the same week that separate teams of researchers in the U.K. and China racing to develop the first COVID-19 vaccine said trials had promising results. Vaccines can take years to develop, and researchers are working at unprecedented speed to get a preparation ready. The current White House administration's Operation Warp Speed is among efforts to make the process faster.

Mirroring past comments, Fauci said he was cautiously optimistic a vaccine would be available by the end of this year or the beginning of 2021.

If this is achieved and the "overwhelming majority" of the population is vaccinated "we could start talking about real normality again. But it's going to be a gradual process," Fauci said.

"The companies are telling us, and I hope that we can believe them but I'm putting some faith in it[...]that they would have doses to the tunes of tens of millions early in the year, and up to hundreds of millions as we get well into 2021, and some companies say that even after a while, you could get as many as a billion doses."

Back in May, a poll showed only half of Americans say they intend to get vaccinated against the novel coronavirus. Asked to address safety concerns people have about taking a vaccine created at such a rapid rate, Fauci said: "The speed is not at the sacrifice of safety issues. The speed is the technologies that we have now that would make going into a clinical trial, instead of waiting a year we did it within a period of a month or two. That's the first time saver."

The second is a financial risk to manufacturers who are making doses of the vaccines before they know they work, so if they are found to be effective doses would be available earlier than they normally would. This "cuts a lot of time," he said.

Fauci said: "The regulatory aspects, the FDA has been extremely good in getting things through without compromising safety that bureaucratically would have taken five, ten times as long to do. They're doing it in a real time basis to get us the answers. Understandably people are concerned, but safety is not being compromised."

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Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pictured at a Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee hearing in Washington, DC, June 30, 2020. AL DRAGO/AFP via Getty Images