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Tipsheet

Fauci Offers a 'Doable' Timeline for a Coronavirus Vaccine

AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

Two days of good news in a row from Dr. Anthony Fauci. On Wednesday the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director was eager to relay the positive results from a trial on the drug remdesivir as a potential treatment for the coronavirus. The main takeaways from the international, placebo-controlled study were that patients had a 31 percent better chance of recovering and getting discharged from the hospital. On average the drug decreased the recovery time from 14 days to 11 days.

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It is "good news," Dr. Fauci told NBC's Savannah Guthrie on Thursday morning, but reiterated that it is "modest" good news and a mere stepping stone to finding a more effective treatment.

"That's important," he said of the findings. "But that's the first step in what we project will be better and better drugs coming along, either alone or in combo drugs of this type or drugs addressing other targets of the virus."

There are a few other obstacles to note, however. As warned by its manufacturer Gilead Sciences, the drug takes month to produce. Fauci said he knows the company is "committed" to getting it out, so he "would hope that winds up being the case." 

Fauci expects the FDA to decide on an emergency authorization for remdesivir "really quickly."

In the meantime, the White House has introduced Operation Warp Speed, a program dedicated to speed the timeline on a vaccine. Their goal is to have hundreds of millions of doses available for distribution as early as January. Most vaccine processes take years.

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"I think that is doable if things fall in the right place," Dr. Fauci said of the timeline.

The team is in the early phases of a trial of a potential vaccine, but "as quickly as we possibly can" they will try and get an answer as to whether it works and is safe. If so, they're going to ramp up production.

"You at risk proactively start making it assuming it's going to work," he explained. "And if it does, you can scale up and get to that timeline."

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