Dr. Anthony Fauci offered a glimmer of hope over the weekend, saying Americans could reach herd immunity after COVID-19 vaccinations arrive.
“Vaccines are coming and they’re going to be available relatively soon,” Fauci, the country’s top infectious disease expert, said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.” “If we can hang in there with the mitigation methods and implementing them we can get out of this. So there’s a very sober message on the one hand, but there’s a hopeful message if we do certain things.”
Herd immunity, which refers to how protected a community is against an illness, can play a crucial role in slowing the spread of COVID-19, health experts say.
Pfizer and Moderna both say their vaccine candidates have an efficacy rate of about 95% in early results. A third major pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, announced Monday trials for its vaccine show 90% efficacy.
It’s unclear when vaccines will become available. Pfizer announced Friday its plans to submit emergency use authorization to the U.S. Food & Drug Administration for its vaccine.
The FDA will review the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines during a meeting with its advisory group Dec. 10-12, according to CNBC.
States are now working on plans to distribute the vaccines once they are approved.
More than 12.2 million COVID-19 cases and 258,000 deaths have been reported in the United States as of Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. New cases and hospitalizations are spiking in many areas across the country ahead of Thanksgiving as health experts advise people to avoid travel.
But Fauci, the head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said “help is on the way.”
Fauci said it’s imperative to get as many people vaccinated as possible in order to reach herd immunity.
“If you get an overwhelming majority of the people vaccinated with a highly efficacious vaccine, we can reasonably quickly get to the herd immunity that would be a blanket of protection for the country,” Fauci said.
The World Health Organization has referred to a 65-70% vaccine coverage in order to achieve immunity, Reuters reported.