Moncef Slaoui, head of the US government’s effort to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, said that “we are pretty close” to having a vaccine for Covid-19.
“We are pretty close,” Slaoui said on CNBC Monday. “In fact, we are – this is an unprecedented program.”
In the United States, there are three vaccines in phase three trials, and a fourth one is scheduled to start imminently, Slaoui said. Two of the phase three trials in the US have almost fully recruited the numbers laid out in their original plans.
“Really, the readout of these phase three trials is 50% of the answer to the question. When we read out efficacy, that is going to happen somewhere between October and December, January. The longer we wait, the more likely,” he said.
The reason it isn’t known and can’t be predicted is because it depends on the number of cases in the study, he said.
The other 50% of what is really important to define when the vaccine will be available is manufacturing and availability of vaccine doses, he said – something which Slaoui said is also progressing well.
The US is investing in up to 25 different manufacturing facilities in the United States to help manufacture the six vaccines that are being supported by Operation Warp Speed. Small numbers of the vaccine doses are already being stockpiled that will be readily available in November and December.
“If approval is granted around that time – or authorization – we may be able, for instance, to immunize the most susceptible populations in the US by December of 2020,” he said. “Most of the elderly population and first line workers in January of 2021, and the rest of the US population progressively in the month of February, March and April.”