Two of the leading U.S. coronavirus experts said Sunday they personally would have no worry about receiving either of the vaccines that are under final review, but voiced concern about the continuing skepticism of the American public.
“These vaccines are highly effective,” Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s effort to develop a coronavirus vaccine, told ABC’s “This Week” show. "I feel very comfortable taking the vaccine.”
Vaccines developed separately by the drug-making teams at Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna have shown 95% efficacy in tests and are now awaiting U.S. government approval for use generally as tens of thousands of new infections are being recorded in the United States each day.
But national polls in the U.S. have shown that about four in 10 Americans remain uncertain about getting vaccinated.
The government’s review is likely to be completed in the next few weeks and millions of doses of the vaccines could be made available before the end of the year, initially for health care workers and the most vulnerable elderly in nursing homes.
“I’m very concerned about that skepticism,” Slaoui said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top U.S. infectious disease expert, told CBS News’s “Face the Nation” show he also has no fear of being vaccinated.
“If I’m within the group that’s recommended, I definitely I would,” he said. “I would have no hesitation to take it. Nor would I have hesitation to recommend it to my family.”
He said that assuming the Food and Drug Administration approves the vaccines after its review, “When the American public hears that, you should be assured” that they are safe.
He said, “Twenty million could be vaccinated by the middle to the end of December and in January and February even more. We need to get as many people vaccinated as possible.”
He said there would be “blanket protection” for the country if vast numbers are vaccinated, but not if only 45% or 50% are.
He said with the current nearly 200,000 new infections each day in the U.S., “We’re in a very, very difficult situation."
He stressed the need for continued “mitigation measures,” such as physically distancing from other people by two meters or more and wearing face masks.
“If you don’t follow these recommendations, you could have an exponential increase” in the number of cases, he said.
“We can do something” about the increase in the number of cases, he said. “Help is on the way. Vaccines are on the way if we can hang in there. We can get out of this.”
“There’s a very sober message on the one hand but there’s a hopeful message if we do certain things,” Fauci concluded. “It’s within our power to do them.”