COVID-19 won’t be a pandemic for “a lot longer” thanks to rapid progress in vaccine development, says Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease official.
The coronavirus could nonetheless remain endemic for a long time, the director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said at an event organized by Chatham House, a U.K. think tank.
“Certainly it’s not going to be pandemic for a lot longer, because I believe the vaccines are going to turn that around,” Fauci said. “Vaccines will help us. What we’ve got to do is just hang on and continue to double down on the public health measures.”
Generally, a pandemic is defined as an infection that puts the global population at risk, while an endemic disease is one that spreads in some areas and not others.
Fauci also said developers should push to make billions of their COVID-19 vaccines to ensure access to all parts of the world, instead of focusing on the rich countries.
Fauci’s comments come days after Pfizer Inc said its COVID-19 vaccine candidate was more than 90% effective based on initial results from a large-scale trial, securing a lead in the race to develop a safe and effective vaccine for the respiratory illness.
Pfizer has a $1.95 billion contract with the U.S. government to deliver 100 million vaccine doses beginning this year, as well as a deal with the European Union to supply up to 300 million doses.
“Now a number of different companies are talking about the ability to make billions of doses. That’s what we need. We don’t need hundreds of millions for the rich countries,” Fauci said.
“We need billions (of vaccine doses), so whether you live in the darkest part of the developing world, or if you live in London, you should have the same access.”