Dr. Anthony Fauci says that the United States is “real close” to approving a third COVID-19 vaccine, the first one to use double-stranded DNA and be delivered in a single injection.
Fauci, an immunologist and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases who served on Trump’s White House Coronavirus Task Force and is now working with the Biden administration, said on MSNBC that the new vaccine is just two weeks away from being approved.
“No more than two weeks from now the data will be analyzed in a similar fashion the way we analyzed it with the Moderna and the Pfizer candidate,” Fauci said. “That is an independent data and safety monitoring board.”
“We’ll look at the data, determine if it’s ready to be given to the company so that they can go to the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] and ask to see if they can get an emergency use authorization.” He added that he didn’t “want to get ahead of them but I have to tell you I would be surprised if it was any more than two weeks from now that the data will be analyzed and decisions would be made.”
Fauci said that the new vaccine — developed after the Trump administration awarded the company nearly $500 million — presents “really good news” because once approved it will make it easier for Americans to get inoculated because it’s a single-dose shot. “That’s really important because you can expect to start to see results 10, 14 days or so right after” he said. “But it has a less stringent cold chain requirement, which is really good.”
Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, the first in the U.S., was approved by the FDA for emergency use authorization (EUA) on Dec. 11. The FDA on Dec. 18 also approved Moderna’s EUA request. Both are already being distributed. Moderna said its data showed their vaccine was 95% effective in its late-stage clinical trial, the same as Pfizer’s.
The Moderna vaccine was developed in conjunction with the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed. A key advantage of Moderna’s vaccine is that it does not need sub-zero storage like Pfizer’s, which needs to be stored at -94 degrees.
Unlike the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, which store the instructions in single-stranded RNA, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine uses double-stranded DNA.
Fauci’s comments on Friday came a day after Dr. Mark McClellen, a Johnson & Johnson board member, told CNBC that the U.S. COVID-19 vaccine supply will receive a huge boost in the coming weeks “if the clinical trial works out.”
“I do know that J&J is making a very large supply, going all out with its production, both here in the US and elsewhere around the world, with the goal of having perhaps enough vaccines for 100 million Americans by spring, by this April or so,” said McClellan, a former FDA commissioner.
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