Trump's coronavirus vaccine czar envisions '3 waves' of coronavirus vaccine data and approvals. Here's how he sees the next 6 months playing out.
Moncef Slaoui, Chief Advisor to Operation Warp Speed Reuters
Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientist of the U.S. government's coronavirus vaccine initiative, expects three waves of vaccine dates and approvals over the next six months.
"We will have three waves of effectiveness indicators and possibly three waves of permits or permits in case of emergency," Moncef Slaoui, the policy advisor for Operation Warp Speed, said in a telephone interview with Business Insider Tuesday.
Vaccines predicted by Slaoui will have a significant impact on the course of the pandemic in the first three months of 2021, even before the offer is rolled out to all Americans.
Slaoui said the US would give priority to vaccinating the most vulnerable and the people who do important jobs on the front lines. By targeting these two groups early, a vaccine could significantly reduce coronavirus mortality and transmission rates.
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The chief scientist of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government's initiative to accelerate coronavirus vaccines, told Business Insider that he anticipates the leading vaccines will release dates and approvals in three waves over the next few months.
"We will have three waves of effectiveness indicators and possibly three waves of permits or permits in case of emergency," Moncef Slaoui, Policy Advisor for Operation Warp Speed, said in a phone interview with Business Insider this week.
These waves of COVID-19 shots should change the trajectory of the pandemic over the next six months.
Slaoui estimated that vaccinating the most vulnerable populations could reduce the death toll from the outbreak by the end of January.
And by the end of March, Slaoui hopes to have vaccinated a large part of the frontline workers and first aiders, which should lower the transmission rates of the virus.
"Optimistically, I would hope that we will be back to normal by the summer," he said. "I would also hope that we can really get this virus under control before the next flu season."
WATCH: Experts discuss the latest information on coronavirus vaccines, including the daunting challenges of testing and distributing a COVID-19 shot in the US
3 waves of vaccine results - and possible approvals - are expected in the next 6 months
Slaoui sees two vaccines in each wave, starting with Pfizer and Moderna. Critical trial results from Pfizer and Moderna are "unlikely in October, more likely in November and very likely in December," added Slaoui.
The second wave is AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson. The two could produce results in December or January, he said.
The third wave is the vaccine being developed by Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, as well as the vaccine by Novavax. Both programs have not yet entered the final phase of clinical trials in the US. Slaoui estimated that they are both on track to start next month.
Both programs are expected to deliver results by next spring. This comes from recent modeling by Larry Corey, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center who oversees these vaccine trials.
All six of these vaccine projects were funded by Operation Warp Speed with a combined total of more than $ 10 billion. The money will be used to conduct massive clinical trials and now increase production.
The contracts include the US government pre-purchasing doses from each vaccine developer, giving the US access to a potentially 800 million doses over time.
Read more: Trump's coronavirus vaccine czar is helping FDA with safety standards that make vaccine approval unlikely, if not impossible, prior to the election
Even if vaccines are successful quickly, there will be no immediate return to normal, Slaoui warns
A volunteer receives an injection from a medical worker during the country's first clinical trial for a potential vaccine against the novel coronavirus on June 24, 2020 at Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto, South Africa.
A vaccine has become a central part of the U.S. response to the pandemic. However, several infectious disease experts have told Business Insider that an effective shot won't have drastic effects immediately and people will continue to wear masks and social distancing when the vaccines are rolled out.
Slaoui agreed with this feeling. Even with a highly effective vaccine - Slaoui believed this hypothesis to be 80% effective - he advised people to keep wearing masks after vaccination.
"Keep wearing them because the vaccine may only be 80% effective under these conditions," he said. "20% of people may still be at risk."
When mapping the next few months, Slaoui assumes that some of the vaccines have demonstrated effectiveness and are approved. This is far from certain, as late-stage studies are currently being conducted to find out how well these vaccines prevent COVID-19, if at all.
Read More: 5 Experts Set Up How To Determine If A Coronavirus Vaccine Is Really Safe And Effective. Here you can find out what you need to know in order to evaluate the data yourself
Effective vaccines could change the course of the pandemic
However, Slaoui is optimistic that the multiple vaccines will have a significant impact on the course of the pandemic over the next few months.
By the end of January, Slaoui believes there will be enough doses to immunize the most vulnerable populations, especially the elderly and people with significant comorbidities. Although vaccine supplies will be extremely limited over the next few months, Slaoui said that prioritizing doses should blunt the death rate from the pandemic to the people at greatest risk.
Read more: A key slide shows who is first in line in the U.S. to get a coronavirus shot when a vaccine becomes available
"If we immunize these people and have enough vaccine doses to immunize them, then by then their perceptions will likely change," Slaoui said. "This will go from something that sadly killed 210,000 people in seven months to something that will kill a dramatically fewer number of our US citizens."
The vaccine supply will increase month by month, said Slaoui. There should be enough vaccines by the end of March to immunize frontline workers and first responders. This will counteract another of the most worrying features of the pandemic: its risk of contagion and its rapid spread. People who work on the front lines in these important areas can spread the virus quickly, Slaoui said. Immunization should therefore reduce the transmission rates considerably.
"I think on the other side of March I would hope that we are entering a new phase where the R-zero is very low, the number of new cases is very low, and we have the rest of the population in one context by immunize very low transmission, "said Slaoui.
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