WASHINGTON — Dr. Anthony Fauci assured the public on Thursday that a coronavirus vaccine would be safe and effective and called for an end to suggestions that the development was rushed for political purposes.
“The process of the speed did not compromise at all safety, nor did it compromise scientific integrity,” Fauci said Thursday at the first White House coronavirus task force briefing in months.
“It was a reflection of the extraordinary scientific advances in these types of vaccines, which allowed us to do it in months that actually took years before,” the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said.
“So I really want to settle that concern that people have about that,” he said, calling the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines “really solid.”
“We really need to put to rest any concept that this was rushed in an inappropriate way,” Fauci said.
Dr. Anthony FauciTasos Katopodis/Getty Images
The warning follows remarks from NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo who has repeatedly suggested that the vaccine development had been “politicized” by Trump and that it would need to undergo a second round of checks by his administration.
Fauci said Pfizer’s recent breakthrough on a successful vaccine candidate means “help is on the way” but warned the public to wear a mask and stay socially distant until they are able to be widely distributed starting with the first vaccinations at the end of December.
“If you’re fighting a battle and the cavalry is on the way, you don’t stop shooting. You keep going until the cavalry gets here,” he said.
The nation is experiencing a troubling surge in new daily coronavirus infections and reached the grim milestone of 250,000 coronavirus deaths on Thursday.
It was the first White House task force briefing at the executive mansion since July 8 with CDC Director Robert Redfield, Vice President Mike Pence, Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx all projecting confidence that the pandemic would eventually be brought to an end but urging Americans to continue doing their part.
It was the first task force briefing at the White House since July 8 with CDC Director Robert Redfield, Vice President Mike Pence, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Fauci and Dr. Deborah Birx all projecting confidence that the pandemic would eventually be brought to an end but urging Americans to continue doing their part.
President Trump was not present.
Redfield also appeared to take a thinly-veiled swipe at New York officials, saying the CDC never suggested that schools be shut down and said the classroom was actually one of the safest places for them to be right now.
“Last spring, the CDC did not recommend school closures, nor did we recommend their closures today,” he said.
“Back in the spring, there was limited data. Today, there’s extensive data that we have gathered over the last two to three months to confirm that K through 12 schools can operate with face-to-face learning and they can do it safely,” he went on.
Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Wednesday announced they were once again shutting down the Big Apple’s public schools, admitting they had no reopening plan and infuriating parents and students.
Redfield said that infections identified at learning institutions were not transmitted in the classroom, but in the community, and warned of small family gatherings where people got comfortable and removed their face coverings.
“The truth is, for kids, K through 12, one of the safest places they can be, from our perspective, is to remain in school,” he said.