US coronavirus expert Dr Anthony Fauci 'cautiously optimistic' we will have vaccine by Christmas

Video report by ITV News Presenter Tom Bradby

Top US coronavirus expert Dr Anthony Fauci is “cautiously optimistic” we will have an effective vaccine by Christmas and if that happens life could be back to normal by the second half of next year. Speaking to ITV News’ Tom Bradby, the head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said it’s projected a safe and effective vaccine could be available by November and December this year. He was careful not to give a guarantee on this but said it was “conceivable”, although he believes “unlikely” we will know earlier, possibly at the end of October, that a vaccine will be available to the public.

Dr Fauci said: “I feel cautiously optimistic… given the preliminary data we had in the early phase of the trial and some of the animal studies, that we will have a vaccine that is effective. “How effective it is going to be, is totally an open question but we believe we’ll have some kind of an effective vaccine by November or December, we’re hoping. “But we have to say for honesty and transparency that’s not a guarantee but I think it’s a reasonable projection.” He said if enough people get vaccinated from the end of 2020, “some form of normality” could return by the second half of next year. Although Dr Fauci said we are not going to be able to “completely abandon healthcare measures.”

US President Donald Trump listens as Dr Anthony Fauci speaks about the outbreak of coronavirus. Credit: AP

“Speaking from experience that we have of getting people vaccinated, getting the dose in the arm, getting the prime and the boost, from a practical stand point, that likely won’t take place until the second half of the year, getting into the third quarter,” Dr Fauci said. He explained a lot of people are not going to want to get vaccinated right away, they will wait until a certain number of people have already been vaccinated, which could start at the end of the year and beginning of 2021. The scientist, who is a White House coronavirus advisor, said people who need the vaccine the most are healthcare workers, those with underlying health conditions, the elderly and those with conditions that make them vulnerable.

The US recently passed the grim milestone of 200,000 deaths and the number of coronavirus cases has passed 7 million in the states. But Dr Fauci would not be drawn on whether the numbers would be lower if President Donald Trump was not in charge. He said he has been responsible for being in his job under six different presidents, dating back to Ronald Regan. “Every president has a different style, they do it in a different way, they operate in a different political climate, so I just don’t want to be raiding anything and say what would be better if we had someone else, I don’t think that would be helpful,” he added.