'Vaccine will be reality by 2021': Dr Fauci

Updated: Aug 02, 2020, 07:32 IST | Agencies | Washington

Top infectious disease expert is 'cautiously optimistic', suggesting the US wouldn't need to depend on other countries for the vaccine

Football fans cheer during the South Korean K-League football match on Saturday.  South Korea started allowing limited numbers of fans back into stadiums as authorities seek to restore normalcy. Pic/AFP
Football fans cheer during the South Korean K-League football match on Saturday. South Korea started allowing limited numbers of fans back into stadiums as authorities seek to restore normalcy. Pic/AFP

Dr Anthony Fauci, top infectious disease specialist and senior advisor to US President Donald Trump on COVID-19, said that he remains confident that a Coronavirus vaccine will be ready by early next year, telling lawmakers that a quarter-million Americans already have volunteered to take part in clinical trials.

But if the future looks encouraging, public health alarms are still going off in the present. Officials testifying with Dr Fauci at a contentious House hearing on Friday acknowledged that the US remains unable to deliver all COVID-19 test results within two or three days, and they jointly pleaded with Americans to comply with basic precautions such as wearing masks, avoiding crowds, and washing their hands frequently.

"Those simple steps can deliver the same bang for the buck as if we just shut the entire economy down," said a frustrated Dr Robert Redfield, director of the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, adding that he has studies to back that up.

Dr Anthony Fauci
Dr Anthony Fauci

Looking ahead, Dr Fauci said he's "cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine by the end of this year and as we go into 2021. I don't think it's dreaming ... I believe it's a reality (and) will be shown to be reality". Under White House orders, federal health agencies and the Defense Department are carrying out a plan dubbed Operation Warp Speed to deliver 300 million vaccine doses on a compressed timeline. That will happen only after the Food and Drug Administration determines that one or more vaccines are safe and effective.

"Don't look for a mass nationwide vaccination right away," Dr Fauci told lawmakers. There will be a priority list based on recommendations from scientific advisers. Topping the list could be critical workers, such as medical personnel, or vulnerable groups of people.

Tokyo reports 3rd day of record numbers with 472

Japan's capital recorded 472 new Coronavirus cases on Saturday, the third straight day of record numbers. Tokyo Gov Yuriko Koike issued a warning on Saturday in an online video, urging people to wash their hands, wear masks and visit those businesses that display the special city-backed stickers with the image of a rainbow, which indicates good social distancing. Most people getting sick were in their 20s and 30s, highlighting how they may be putting their guard down and going out partying, according to officials. Nationwide, the daily count of cases in Japan totalled a record 1,579 on Friday.

Mexico's COVID-19 death toll now world's 3rd highest

With a total of 46,688 fatalities, Mexico now accounts for the world's third highest number of Coronavirus fatalities in the world, according to the Johns Hopkins University. Previously the UK had the third highest toll, and registered 46,204 deaths as of Saturday, the University revealed in its latest update. The US currently accounts for the world's highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths at 45,62,170 and 1,53,314, followed by Brazil. In terms of cases, Mexico ranks in the sixth place with 4,24,637 infections, the University update added.

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