WebMD News Brief

COVID-19 Vaccine Should Be ‘Very Effective’

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August 3, 2020 -- The head of Operation Warp Speed — the U.S. government’s effort to create a coronavirus vaccine — said he expects it to have effectiveness in the “90% range,” according to CNN.

At the same time, the vaccine may not be available for all Americans until the end of 2021.

“I think it will be a very effective vaccine. That’s my prediction,” Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser for the operation, told CNN on Thursday. Slaoui gave his first television interview as the operation leader while touring a vaccine clinical trial site in Savannah, Georgia.

“My personal opinion, based on my experience and the biology of this virus, I think this vaccine is going to be highly efficacious,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s in the 90% [range].”

Slaoui is an immunologist and former head of the vaccine program at pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, where he led the development of five new vaccines.

The timeline for wide distribution, though, could take most of next year. He said vaccines could be available for all Americans by the middle of 2021 “ideally,” but it may take until the end of 2021.

The FDA has provided guidelines that the efficacy rates for the COVID-19 vaccine “should be at least 50%.”

In late June, Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said he would “settle” for a coronavirus vaccine between 70% and 75% effective.

“The best we’ve ever done is measles, which is 97 to 98% effective,” he told CNN. “That would be wonderful if we get there. I don’t think we will. I would settle for 70, 75% effective vaccine.”

A full course of three polio vaccines is 99% to 100% effective, according to the CDC. The round of vaccines given for diphtheria, tetanus, and pertussis is 80% to 90% effective. The flu vaccine is about 40% to 60% effective.

The COVID-19 vaccine could require a “booster” shot after the first vaccine “every year or every two years or every three years,” Slaoui said Thursday.

He expects that the first available doses will be ready in December 2020 or January 2021, which will go to high-risk people, including older adults and those with underlying health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and hypertension.

“We will not have doses for the full U.S. population on day one,” he said.

WebMD Health News Brief Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on August 03, 2020


CNN, “Operation Warp Speed leader says he expects coronavirus vaccine to be highly effective, ‘in the 90%’ range.”

FDA, “Development and Licensure of Vaccines to Prevent COVID-19.”

CNN, “Fauci says Covid-19 vaccine may not get US to herd immunity if too many people refuse to get it.”

CDC, “Polio Vaccine Effectiveness and Duration of Protection.”

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