By Brianna Abbott and Peter Loftus
Anthony Fauci, a leading expert in the U.S. government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, expressed cautious optimism on Tuesday that several successful vaccine candidates would prove effective “within a reasonable period of time” to fight the novel pathogen.
But how long the protection from an eventual vaccine might last is “a big unknown,” he said via remote video during The Wall Street Journal’s Tech Health Conference. A short duration of protection could create additional challenges, he said.
“There will be a vaccine that is protective,” said Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, an immunologist who has dedicated much of his career to the search for an HIV vaccine.
He said “we are really optimistic we’re going to be able to be successful” with a coronavirus vaccine NIAID has been developing with the biotech company Moderna Inc. /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +3.28% The vaccine showed positive signs in an early study, though it has more testing to go.
What gives Fauci hope for vaccines to fend off the virus, he said, is that many people have naturally been able to rid themselves of it and recover. The human body mounts an effective immune response against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, unlike with other infectious diseases such as HIV, he said. “Given that the body can make a good response against coronavirus, we feel cautiously optimistic that if we mimic safely natural infection with our vaccine, we will be able to induce a response in a person that would be equivalent to the response that natural infection induces,” Fauci said.
Also popular on WSJ.com: