The leading U.S. infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, received the initial dose of the newest COVID-19 vaccine Tuesday, alongside other federal health leaders who helped oversee its development.
Fauci received the vaccination at the U.S. National Institute of Health (NIH), where he serves as the director of allergies and infectious diseases, just outside Washington, D.C. He received the vaccine developed jointly by the NIH and U.S. pharmaceutical company Moderna, which was just approved for emergency use last week.
Afterward, he told reporters how remarkable it was to be receiving a vaccine less than a year after the virus it is designed to treat was discovered. "What we're seeing now is the culmination of years of research which have led to a phenomenon that has truly been unprecedented," he said.
The vaccinations are part of a broader government effort to bolster public confidence in the safety of two COVID-19 vaccines recently cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
The 79-year-old Fauci received his first vaccination of the two-dose regimen alongside NIH director Dr. Francis Collins and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar.
Along with a similar shot from Pfizer-BioNTech, the U.S. is working to ramp up the largest vaccination effort in its history to eventually defeat the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 320,000 people in the U.S. and upended life worldwide.
Both vaccines are strongly protective and were developed less than a year after the coronavirus emerged, a scientific victory built on years of NIH-funded research.
Six health care workers from NIH's research hospital also received vaccination shots at the event, some of whom work directly with COVID-19 patients.