Most Americans could get Covid-19 vaccines by Q2 next year, leading to herd immunity by fall: Fauci

Moderna Inc. joined Pfizer Inc. on Nov 30 in requesting the FDA issue an emergency use authorisation for its shot. PHOTO: REUTERS

COLORADO (BLOOMBERG) - The overwhelming majority of Americans could be vaccinated against Covid-19 by the second quarter of next year, leading to herd immunity by the fall, Dr Anthony Fauci, the US government's top infectious disease doctor, said on Tuesday (Dec 1).

In an online news conference with Colorado governor Jared Polis, Dr Fauci said the ordinary man and woman on the street, without co-existing conditions or elevated risks, will start getting access to the vaccines now being considered by US regulators in April.

If Americans embrace the immunisation, most may have gotten the shot before August comes to a close, he said.

"That means you would have herd immunity that would allow you to safely get people back to school in the fall, to safely get people back to the kinds of work that would otherwise be difficult as you get to the middle and the end of the summer," Dr Fauci said.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases also said he was surprised by the high efficacy of the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.

Moderna Inc. joined Pfizer Inc. on Monday in requesting the FDA issue an emergency use authorisation for its shot. Both vaccines are better than 90 per cent effective, according to preliminary results of clinical trials, though their distribution challenges include requiring two shots.

Vice-President Mike Pence told governors on Monday that distribution of a coronavirus vaccine could begin by the third week of December, signaling that US regulators will swiftly approve an emergency authorization for the first shots.

Meanwhile, President Trump plans to host a coronavirus vaccine summit next week. White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said in a statement that leaders from state governments, the military and scientific community will attend the Dec 8 gathering, as the administration "prepares to deliver this historic, life-saving vaccine to every zip code in the United States within 24 hours of an FDA approval."

Mr Trump has claimed personal credit for accelerating the development of coronavirus vaccines through the government's "Operation Warp Speed" programme. "I came up with vaccines that people didn't think we'd have for five years," he said in an interview on Sunday on Fox News.

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