The head of the government’s efforts to develop a vaccine against Covid-19 says he expects the vaccine to have an efficacy ratio of “90%”, but that there may not be enough vaccine for all Americans by the end of next year.
“I think it will be a very effective vaccine. This is my prediction,”
Slavey, an immunologist, previously led the vaccine program at GlaxoSmithKline, where he led the development of five major new vaccines.
He said there would be enough vaccine for all Americans “ideally” by mid-2021, but probably not by the end of 2021.
Slavey spoke with CNN senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen on Thursday as he toured a clinical trial for the Covid-19 vaccine in Savannah, Georgia. This was his first television interview since joining Operation Warp Speed in May.
When will there be a vaccine for everyone?
In June, Dr. Anthony Fauci gave Cohen a less optimistic prognosis about the efficacy of the Covid-19 vaccine.
“The best thing we’ve ever done is measles, which is 97 to 98 percent effective,” said Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. “It would be wonderful if we got there. I don’t think we will [a] 70, 75% effective vaccine. ”
The US Food and Drug Administration has set an even lower standard for the Covid-19 vaccine, stating in its guidelines that the level of efficacy “must be at least 50%”.
Vaccines have different rates of effectiveness. According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a full range of polio vaccines is 99% to 100% effective; full vaccination against diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis is 80-90% effective, while influenza is 40-60% effective.
Slavey added that with the Covid-19 vaccine, “we may need a booster” after the initial vaccination “every year or every two years or every three years.”
Slavey said he expects “likely to have several tens of millions of doses” of vaccine in December this year or January next year, and these will go to high-risk individuals because “we will not have doses for the entire U.S. population on the first day.”
High-risk individuals include the elderly and those with underlying health conditions such as hypertension, diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Slavey said he was “optimistic” that there would be vaccines for all Americans by the end of 2021, but ideally by mid-2021.
“This is our goal,” he said.
Vaccine trials are moving at a record pace
Operation Warp Speed is funding eight vaccines, Slavey said.
Five of them are already in phase 3 clinical trials or will begin by the end of September, he said. Trial Phase 3 is the last round of testing before the vaccine passes the regulators and can be placed on the market. Phase 3 trials with the Covid-19 vaccine will involve 30,000 study subjects.
“They’re all different vaccines. They’re actually going very fast,” Slavey said, noting that the virus was only identified six months ago. “I’ve been doing this for 30 years and the fastest thing I can ever remember was four years from discovery to phase three trials.”
The vaccines made by Moderna and Pfizer are in phase 3 in the United States, and the AstraZeneca vaccine is in phase 3 trials in the United Kingdom, Brazil and South Africa. Phase 3 trials for this vaccine are expected to begin in August in the United States.
Phase 3 research on vaccines made by two other companies, Johnson & Johnson and Novavax, is set to begin in September, he added.
Slavey did not name the other three vaccines that will receive funding from Operation Warp Speed.
Video: Here’s what Fauci thinks about the latest vaccine trial (CNN)