Fauci: U.S. ‘weeks away’ from evaluating new vaccine candidates

COVID-19 virus illustration. Image: Pixabay

Jan. 17 (UPI) — Dr. Anthony Fauci on Sunday said that the United States will soon begin the process of approving new COVID-19 vaccines.

Appearing on NBC News’ Meet the Press, Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the nation is “weeks away, not months away” from fully evaluating vaccine candidates from Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca as Biden plans to ramp up distribution after criticizing the Trump administration’s vaccine rollout.

“I would imagine within a period of a week or so, or at the most, a couple of weeks, they’re going to be getting their data together and showing it to the [Food and Drug Administration],” he said. “They’re going to have to get their data and safety monitoring board to look at it to see if it is appropriate to start, you know, essentially putting the package together to get an emergency use authorization. But we’re weeks away, not months away, for sure.”

The U.S. has administered 13.7 million shots since inoculations began on Dec. 14 with healthcare workers for an average of 847,387 doses per day, according to Bloomberg.

Biden, who is set to be inaugurated on Wednesday, has pledged to administer 100 million vaccines within his first 100 days in office.

Fauci said “there’s no doubt” the goal can be achieved by invoking the Defense Production Act to gather the necessary supplies.

“One thing that’s clear is that the issue of getting 100 million doses in the first 100 days is absolutely a doable thing,” he said.

On Saturday, the nation reported 198,218 new cases and 3,286 new deaths.

Ron Klain, Biden’s incoming White House chief of staff, told CNN’s State of the Union Sunday he expects the United States will hit 500,000 coronavirus deaths sometime in February but that the incoming administration plans to combat the virus by ramping up vaccinations and testing as well as encouraging mask-wearing.

“People who are contracting the virus today will start to get sick next month and will add to the death toll in late February, even March. So, it’s going to take a while to turn this around,” he said. “The virus is the virus. What we can do is act to control it. And that means getting these vaccinations moving. It means getting help to state and local governments to help reopen schools safely, to give people the protective gear they need and to really ramp up testing.”

California leads the nation in cases and deaths since the start of the pandemic with 2,942,475 total cases and a death toll of 33,392 since the start of the pandemic, after adding 42,229 infections and 432 deaths on Sunday.

Texas added 15,667 cases and 207 deaths on Sunday ranking second in both categories with 1,853,521 infections and third in fatalities at 32,038.

Florida ranks third in cases with 1,571,279, adding 11,093 on Sunday. The state also added 133 resident deaths for a total of 24,137.

New York added 13,842 cases on Sunday for the fourth-highest total in the United States and added 172 deaths and ranks second in deaths with 32,897 since the start of the pandemic but a total of 40,993 including probable fatalities in first place.

Illinois reported 4,162 new COVID-19 cases and 29 deaths on Sunday ranking fifth with 1,068,829 total infections and a death toll of 18,208.


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