New York, March 27 : Dr. Anthony Fauci, Americas top infectious diseases doctor on the White House coronavirus task force, signalled a dramatic shift in the way Covid-19 vaccine development is going to get fast tracked so that precious time is not lost between green-lighting the drug itself and time to market.
Despite the speedier process, the likely timeline of vaccine delivery is still being pegged at 12-18 months.
"I'm not changing any of the dates that I mentioned," Fauci said.
Explaining the thinking behind the policy shift, Fauci said, "Even before you know something works, at risk, you have to start producing it, because once you know it works, you can say, great, it works so now give me another six months to produce it." Fauci told reporters that there are a "couple of handfuls" of vaccines at different stages of development at this time.
Phase One trials, currently on, will drag all the way into the summer of 2020, Fauci said. Next come the Phase Two and Phase Three trials which will likely lead to what Fauci calls the "efficacy" signal.
"If in fact it does work, we hope to rush it to be able to have some impact on (the virus) recycling in the next season," Fauci said, referring to the possibility that Covid-19 becomes a seasonal infection.
Fauci said the White House task force is working with the private sector to hard code this change in policy which can shrink the time between vaccine approval and delivery to America's healthcare system.
"The best way to get the best drug as quickly as possible is to do a randomized control trial, so that you know is it safe and effective. If it's not effective, get it off the board and go to the next thing. If it is effective, get it out to the people that need it", Fauci said.
Fauci indicated that he will be circling back throughout April on all the drugs that are going into randomized controlled trials.
Fauci struck a cautiously upbeat tone saying he feels "confident" that the US will find a solution based on all the knowledge now available on the virus "We will have some sort of therapy that gives at least a partial if not a very good protection in preventing progression of disease," Fauci said.
(Nikhila Natarajan can be contacted at @byniknat)