Coronavirus

Coronavirus USA: Fauci makes Labor Day plea amid high cases

US infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci has said that he is concerned about what is happening as the holiday approaches.

Coronavirus USA: Fauci habla sobre el Labor Day y el aumento de casos 
Mandel Ngan AFP via Getty Images

White House coronavirus advisor, and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has spoken about the ‘unacceptably high’ number of Covid-19 cases being tracked as we head into fall and winter. He also pleaded for Americans to act sensibly as Labor Day arrives.

Fauci pleads to Americans

“We know from prior experience as you get into the holiday weekend, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, there’s a tendency of people to be careless somewhat with regard to the public health measures,” he warned.

“I want to use this opportunity to almost have a plea to the people in this country to realise that we really still need to get our arms around this and to suppress these types of surges we’ve seen.”

We’re around 40,000 cases. That’s an unacceptably high baseline. We’ve got to get it down to, I’d like to see 10,000 or less.”

Fauci still wants Americans to have an ‘enjoyable’ weekend, but has urged everyone to follow ‘fundamental’ health measures. This should include wearing a face mask, avoiding crowds of people, keeping an appropriate distance, maintaining hand washing and, ideally, moving events outdoors.

Trump hoping for early vaccine

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has asked state public health officials to prepare to distribute a potential coronavirus vaccine to high-risk groups as soon as late October, according to documents published by the agency.

The timing has taken on political importance as US President Donald Trump seeks re-election on 3 November, after committing billions of federal dollars to develop vaccines against Covid-19, which has killed more than 185,000 people in the United States.

Pfizer Inc said on Thursday it should know by the end of October whether a Covid-19 vaccine it is developing with German partner BioNTech SE is safe and effective.

The US drugmaker said it will seek approval immediately if trial results are positive. It has already manufactured hundreds of thousands of doses.

Fauci talks about 'guesstimates'

Fauci said on Thursday that having a vaccine ready by the end of October is possible, but he was not counting on it.

"These are all guesstimates," Fauci told CNN, when asked about Pfizer's comments, adding that most experts project a vaccine will be ready by November or December. "It is conceivable that you can have it by October, though I don't think that that's likely."

The CDC "provided states with certain planning assumptions as they work on state specific plans for vaccine distribution, including possibly having limited quantities of vaccines in October and November," an agency spokeswoman told Reuters.

Vaccine push | US President Donald J. Trump during a news briefing at the White House.

The New York Times had earlier reported that the CDC had contacted officials in all 50 states and five large cities with vaccine planning information.

The documents put online by the New York Times showed the CDC is preparing for one or two vaccines for Covid-19 to be available in limited quantities as soon as late October.

The vaccines would be made available free of cost first to high-risk groups including healthcare workers, national security personnel, and nursing home residents and staff, the agency said in the documents.

Regulators around the world have repeatedly insisted that development speed will not compromise vaccine safety, as quicker results would stem from conducting parallel trials that are usually done in sequence. Such reassurances have not convinced everyone that political pressure will not play a role.

Fauci told CNN he is confident the Food and Drug Administration and independent advisory panels of experts will all review data on vaccine candidates to make sure they are safe and effective.

The global race for Covid-19 vaccine

Preliminary results of a survey conducted over the last three months in 19 countries showed that only about 70% of British and US respondents would take a Covid-19 vaccine if available, Scott Ratzan, co-leader of a group called Business Partners to Convince, told Reuters in August.

AstraZeneca Plc, Pfizer and Moderna Inc are among those farthest along in the race to develop vaccines to prevent Covid-19 infection or limit severity of the illness. Their candidates are all in late-stage clinical trials.

Last month, U.S. health officials said the CDC was executing an existing contract option with McKesson Corp to support potential vaccine distribution.

CDC Director Robert Redfield has asked state governors to expedite McKesson's requests for building vaccine distribution centers and to consider waiving requirements that would stop them from becoming fully operational by 1 November, according to a recent letter seen by Reuters.