The general public may be granted access to Covid-19 vaccines as soon as April and the country may be able to have most Americans inoculated by the middle or end of the summer, Dr. Anthony Fauci said this week.
The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases told NBC’s “Today” show that he is confident the pace of vaccination across the country will increase going into the next couple of months. More doses should be available daily by March and April, Fauci said, also claiming that he was ‘fairly certain’ that pharmacies, community vaccine centers and mobile units will help increase the vaccination rate by the end of April, and not just for those in the higher priority groups.
“I would imagine by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call for, you know, for better wording, open season,” Fauci said. “Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.
Fauci previously said that Americans had a chance of having a more normal life by the beginning of fall, under the assumption that at least 70% of the population was vaccinated by the end of summer. Meanwhile, more states are loosening Covid-19 restrictions, despite experts’ warnings that the country is not yet in the clear as more-transmissible variants are increasingly appearing across the country and rest of the world.
Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte signed a bill this week that will shield businesses and houses of worship from legal liability for Covid-19 transmission as long as they are taking sufficient measures to follow public health guidelines, and announced he did not intend to extend the state-wide mask mandate. “The mask mandate will expire on Friday,” the governor said, adding, “Since we’re not out of the woods yet, I will continue to wear a mask, and I will encourage all Montanans to do the same.”
“I would like to just take a couple of minutes to pre-emptively answer three types of questions that I have been asked over the last several days that I believe are important to address pre-emptively because they will come up,” Fauci said at the Covid-19 response team White House press conference.
“The first relates to the fact that many states, cities, and locations who have gone from 1A to 1B will soon or have already gone into the 1C of the phase. Within 1C are persons 16 to 64 years of age with underlying conditions, including those that might be immunosuppressed because of certain drugs such as glucocorticoids or corticosteroids for diseases like autoinflammatory diseases or allergic diseases.”
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced this week that stadiums and arenas with a capacity of more than 10,000 can start reopening on February 23, with approval from the state’s health department and heavy restrictions. Chicago officials also announced this week that bars and restaurants could increase capacity as the state goes about slowly easing pandemic restriction measures. “There has been a number of individuals who feel that they should not get vaccinated because of those underlying conditions. I want to set the record straight for these individuals because they are more vulnerable to these more severe effects of if they do get infected. Therefore, they are the very people who should get vaccinated,” Fauci continued at the press conference.
“When you think in terms of having an immunosuppressed state, for example, if you’re on glucocorticoids for rheumatoid arthritis or you’re on some of the monoclonal antibodies that block the markers of inflammation, that under those circumstances, if that’s where you are, there is not a safety issue with regard to the vaccine.
“Safety issues in immunosuppressed individuals relate to live attenuated vaccines which are contraindicated in people who are immunosuppressed. There is no safety reason not to get vaccinated. So for those who are thinking of getting vaccinated or soon will come up for vaccination, this is something that would be beneficial to you.
“The only potential downside might be that you might not have as robust a response to the vaccine as if you had a normal immune response. But clearly, getting a less than optimum response is much better than no response at all. And I’m sure we’ll be getting back to this question as more vaccines become available and more people in that category will be ready to get vaccinated.
“The next is the question of the vaccination of children, namely pediatrics and pregnant women. As we all know, these were not included in the original clinical trials that led to the EUA for the two vaccines that are currently available. But I want to point out that since the EUA, and under the EUA, approximately 20,000 pregnant women have been vaccinated with no red flags, as we say, and this is being monitored by the CDC and the FDA. So that’s where we’re going there. With regard to children and pregnant women, as I mentioned on a prior discussion with this group, the fact remains that we will be starting clinical trials and some have already started.”