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Fauci Says This Would Put the 'Nail in the Coffin' of COVID-19

The latest on development, and what a successful vaccine would look like.

All of us are wondering how quickly a coronavirus vaccine can be developed, and how effective it might be. Understandably: "If you really want to put the nail in the coffin of an outbreak, you're going to need a vaccine," said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during an interview on Bloomberg's Balance of Power on Wednesday. Fauci outlined what he would consider a successful vaccine, and the latest on the development front—and he emphasized there's plenty you can do to protect yourself in the meantime. And to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these 21 Subtle Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.


50% Effectiveness Would Be Enough

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Fauci said "I'd love to have" a vaccine that's 80 to 90% effective, "but if we get a 50 to 60% effective, I'll feel good about that with regard to durability."


A Season of Immunity Would Be Sufficient

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"If you get a vaccine, you're going to at least have several months protection to get you through a season," he said. "If it turns out that you get more than that, we'll all the better. If it turns out you need to boost someone, that's okay, too—we can give a booster shot."

RELATED: Dr. Fauci's 10 Places You're Most Likely to Catch Coronavirus


Who's Ahead In the Vaccine Race

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Researchers around the world have been working at full speed (in the U.S., Operation Warp Speed) to be first to develop a vaccine. "There's no one that's ahead in efficacy because the proof is in the pudding—you need to do the phase three clinical trial to determine efficacy and to confirm safety," said Fauci.

"There are a number of vaccines that have already entered phase three trial," he added. "There's one from England, one in Brazil and South Africa. There is one that we started here with Moderna, and Pfizer started on the 27th of July. There are other companies that are going to be starting in the next month or two or three. So you're talking about five or six or more companies, each of which have started at different times. We don't know which one is going to be better than the other. And you know what? I hope I hope they're all equivalently good, because that's what we need. We need vaccines. Not only for the United States, we need vaccines for the whole world."


How Worried He Is About Vaccine Risks

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The history of vaccine development contains several incidents of unintended early side effects, from the polio vaccine to the 1976 Swine Flu inoculation campaign. Some are worried that coronavirus vaccines are being rushed through, to the detriment of their safety. Not Fauci, who said that past is not prologue here. "We pay particular attention to safety and the rapidity with which we are moving relates more to technical logical advances in how you can make a vaccine, even before you start testing it," said Fauci. "That makes me confident that we are going to do everything we can to determine safety. So when we talk about speed, it doesn't mean sacrificing safety considerations, nor does it mean sacrificing scientific integrity. It means we've been able to do things more quickly because of risks that we take financially."

"So when people hear risk, they think, 'Oh, is that a risk to me?' No. It means that you do things in advance of making investments in preparing clinical trial sites and even starting to manufacture the vaccine before you even know it works. When you do that, if it works, you've saved several months. If it doesn't work, the only thing you've lost is money."


What the Future Looks Like After a Vaccine

Fauci said that, to an extent, the future can be now. "We should not think of either locked down completely or caution to the wind. There's a middle ground that we can do five or six things that will allow us to prudently and carefully open up the economy. It's not all or none. I think there's a misperception that unless we have a lockdown or open up that there's nothing in between."


What You Can Do Now to Stay Healthy

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If you really want to put the nail in the coffin of an outbreak, you're going to need a vaccine," said Fauci. "However, there are many things that we can do from a public health standpoint that can more adequately control this globally, as well as domestically." Fauci reiterated that hand washing, mask use, bar closures and limiting social gatherings are effective prevention measures—read more here about Dr. Fauci's 10 Worst Coronavirus Mistakes You Could Make.

Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a New York City-based writer and editor whose health and lifestyle content has also been published on Beachbody and Openfit. A contributing writer for Eat This, Not That!, he has also been published in New York, Architectural Digest, Interview, and many others. Read more about Michael
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