Dr Fauci told the FT Live Global Pharmaceutical Summit on Wednesday that he was optimistic about an upcoming vaccine update from biotech group Moderna and that he “would be surprised if we didn’t see a similar level of effectiveness.” to the positive results published by Pfizer and BioNTech on Monday.
Moderna said later on Wednesday that it now has enough cases to begin interim analysis of data from its Phase 3 trials.
Some 30,000 people had received Moderna’s vaccine or a placebo, and 53 people had now tested positive for Covid-19, the company said. Positive cases will be referred to an independent data monitoring committee, which will compare the number of infections in the placebo group with the number of participants vaccinated to examine the effectiveness of the vaccine.
Dr Fauci heads the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is working with Moderna to develop its vaccine and helps fund the Phase 3 trial.
“We were told that literally in the next few days to a week, they would do the same thing looking at the data that the folks at Pfizer did a week ago,” he told the Financial Times.
Dr Fauci expressed optimism about its effectiveness, he said, as the vaccine was “identical in many ways” to the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, which demonstrated 90% effectiveness.
Shares of Moderna, which closed up 8.4 percent at $ 82.44 after Dr. Fauci’s comments, gained an additional 1.9 percent in after-hours trading in New York.
Dr Fauci also said the results of the vaccine developed by Pfizer and the German company BioNTech were better than he had hoped. “I didn’t expect us to get a result as striking as this one. »
The success of the first data for the new mRNA platform used by Moderna and Pfizer was “a major milestone not only for Covid-19 but for the entire field of vaccinology,” he said.
Dr Fauci is one of the most prominent members of the current White House Coronavirus Task Force, although he has increasingly disagreed with Donald Trump as the pandemic worsens , as his messages of caution clashed with the president’s urge to lift restrictions and tighten. the economy.
Dr Fauci said on Wednesday he had yet to speak with Joe Biden, the Democratic President-elect of the United States who defeated Mr Trump in last week’s election. Mr Biden has already set up his own Covid-19 task force to try to ensure he is ready when he takes over in January.
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In a tense week after the election, which Mr Trump has yet to concede, Dr Fauci added that he was trying to avoid politics “because it is so sensitive right now.”
Dr Fauci described the unprecedented surge in cases across the United States, which he said were “almost at an exponential level”, as “really quite worrying.”
The United States has recorded more than 10 million cases of coronavirus and more than 230,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic, according to data from the Covid Tracking Project.
As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, Dr Fauci, 79, has warned people not to travel and to socialize if they have vulnerable family members. He noted that his daughters did not come home to protect him.
“As much as you don’t like to say you’re old, well actually I am,” he said. “We don’t want to close Thanksgiving, but we ask people to consider the risk benefits of a big family reunion.”
He warned the world was still “very, very far from victory” over the pandemic, and said it would take global cooperation to “step up our control efforts” and “double up on public health measures.”
Dr Fauci added that it was likely that Covid-19 will remain endemic – indigenous and widespread – for years to come.
“I don’t think it will be a case and it is, it will become a sluggish level,” he said, adding that “people could be susceptible again” to infection with the virus.
Additional report by Donato Paolo Mancini