White House Coronavirus Task Force member Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that a coronavirus vaccine would be developed by the end of the year during a Wednesday interview on NBC’s “TODAY.”
“I believe that by the time we get to the end of this calendar year that we will feel comfortable that we do have a safe and effective vaccine,” Fauci said. He added that a number of vaccine trials had produced “enough data” to assure confidence in a successful coronavirus vaccine by the year’s end, NBC News reported.
The U.S. has so far seen more than 6 million confirmed coronavirus cases and nearly 185,000 reported deaths according to data from the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.
Fauci also issued a warning about the impending flu season and the consequences a seasonal outbreak could have on the coronavirus. He said the U.S. should dedicate more resources towards advancing clinical trials now in order to reduce further virus outbreaks once the flu season hits, NBC News reported.
“What I’d really like to see is a full court press to get us way down as a baseline, so that when you get these cases in the fall, they won’t surge up,” he said. (RELATED: Big Pharma Company Accelerates Timetable For COVID-19 Vaccine Trials)
President Donald Trump authorized “Operation Warp Speed” earlier this year, which aims to drastically shorten the timeline for a vaccine and produce 100 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020. The president previously said he was optimistic that a vaccine could be developed before the Nov. 3 election, Reuters reported.
Fauci also told TODAY host Sheinelle Jones that people should remain cautious during the upcoming Labor Day weekend.
“We have seen after Fourth of July, we saw after Memorial Day, a surge in cases. Wear a mask. Keep social distancing. Avoid crowds,” he said. “You can avoid those kind of surges. You don’t want to be someone who’s propagating the outbreak. You want to be part of the solution, not part of the problem.”
As universities resume classes for the fall semester, Fauci said administrators should not send students home if they test positive for the coronavirus. “Keep them at the university in a place that’s sequestered enough from the other students. But don’t have them go home because they could be spreading it in their home state,” he said.
More than 20,000 coronavirus cases have been reported in universities across the U.S. since late July, according to a survey from The New York Times. A number of universities have imposed new restrictions and taken measures to prevent large gatherings of students.