Dr. Anthony Fauci “cautiously optimistic” about COVID-19 vaccine by year’s end

As parts of the nation reopen, and fears rise of an ensuing second wave of coronavirus, Dr. Anthony Fauci expressed cautious optimism about the prospect of a vaccine by year’s end.

“I think we will know if we have a safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year,” said the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases in an exclusive interview with FOX 11’s Elex Michaelson for the statewide political show The Issue Is.

The renowned epidemiologist did qualify his optimism, saying there is never a guarantee of a safe and effective vaccine, but that in this case his hopes are bolstered by the data and action he’s seen so far.

In terms of action, Fauci said that one candidate is set to begin a large efficacy trial in July, with other candidates looking to follow closely behind in August and September. Should those candidates prove successful, Fauci anticipates a vaccine could be available by the end of 2020, or the early months of 2021.

“Hopefully we’ll be able to scale up, we’re already doing that, to get doses that will be able to cover the people that need it,” Fauci said. “But again, there’s no guarantee, because vaccines are not easy to do.”

Fauci’s optimism comes during a week rife with promising vaccine news.

This week, Moderna Inc. announced that not only did tests on mice provide positive feedback, without increased risk of contracting other diseases, but that they also plan to being a 30,000 person trial in July.

Johnson & Johnson similarly announced plans to begin human trials in July. Their trial, which is set to involve 1,045 volunteers, was originally scheduled to begin in September, but according to a company statement, was accelerated “based on the strength of preclinical data.”

And Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, part of the US Department of Defense, after considering two dozen prototypes, selected one vaccine candidate, and two backups, to study before going into further trials.

Before a vaccine is ready to go to market though, Fauci was asked about his response to various reopening efforts across the country, namely in California, where cases appear to be on the rise. His message for safe reopening? Stick to the guidelines.

“We have guidelines that are clear guidelines, and they are guidelines that say you need to be in a certain situation where cases are going down, where you get to a benchmark that you go from one phase versus another versus another,” he said. “As public health officials, we recommend very, very clearly that the states, the cities, and those who make decision at the local level, abide by those guidelines as a framework by which to act.”

As states reopen, Fauci stressed that in order to make sure small blips of new cases don’t evolve into big rebounds, localities should ensure that they have the manpower and structure in place to test, identify and trace new cases.

In a wide-ranging interview on The Issue Is, Fauci also discussed the status of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, his new-found celebrity, the risks of President Trump restarting his massive campaign rallies, and his thoughts while watching thousands take to the streets to protest racial injustice in the wake of the killing of George Floyd.

“I clearly can understand the need, and the Constitutional right, to peacefully demonstrate against the social injustice that are at hand now, and the question of violence against African Americans, particularly those instances that we saw with police violence,” Fauci said. “However,  in that context, with an appreciation and a feeling for why that’s important, that is risky… the fact is, when you put people together in a crowd, particularly if you don’t wear a mask… there is a real risk that there will be an upsurge of infection.”

The Issue Is is California's only statewide political show. Watch FOX 11 Los Angeles Fridays at 10:30PM and Sundays at 9:30AM. For more showtimes and information, go to TheIssueIsShow.com.