HHS Secretary Alex Azar encouraged by proposed coronavirus vaccine timeline

Health and Human Services (HHS) Sec. Alex Azar said Wednesday that he is encouraged by the proposed timeline for a coronavirus vaccine.

In an interview on “America’s Newsroom,” Azar said that the doctors President Trump met with Tuesday, including NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, had designed a vaccine within three days of getting the genetic sequence to the virus from China.

“Then, just two days ago the FDA granted approval for the NIH [National Institutes of Health]  — that’s Dr. Fauci’s group — to begin what’s called ‘phase one’ clinical testing in about five weeks,” he explained. “That’s where we’re going to test the safety of this vaccine probably in about 40 to 50 people.”

Azar said that it would take a year to 18 months before there could be a fully-developed vaccine because it needs to be as safe as it is effective.

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“So, we’re talking a lot more about the therapeutics that may be getting developed,” he said. “Existing medicines are getting tested as we speak on people who have the virus because somebody who has the virus — your safety efficacy balance is a little bit different because you’re going to see if that works.”

Azar remains upbeat by the progress.

“I’m certainly encouraged by that vaccine timeline,” Azar told the “Newsroom” hosts. “That would be probably the fastest vaccine delivery in human history. If we could get a vaccine developed in 12 to 18 months, that’s incredible.”

He also noted therapies and antivirals could potentially “deliver faster” results. Azar emphasized that the ability to test patients for the virus is “radically expanding.”

Thus far, more than 90,000 cases of coronavirus have been confirmed worldwide with more than 3,100 deaths; 108 of those cases have been recorded in the United States with nine of those deaths in Washington state alone. The death rate for the virus, which targets the elderly or those with weak immune systems, is now marked at 3.4 percent.

Vice President Mike Pence, with White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx second from left, and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health Anthony Fauci, left, and other members of President Donald Trump’s coronavirus task force, speaks to reporters in the Brady press briefing room of the White House, Monday, March 2, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

Speaking to a gaggle of reporters at the White House on Tuesday, President Trump told Fox News’ John Roberts that potential for recorded cases in all 50 states is not “inevitable at all,” but that the administration is “being very stringent” and watching other countries handle the outbreak and thinking of taking more action.

The administration is reportedly also considering using the National Disaster Medical System to pay for both testing and care for those who are uninsured.

As hand sanitizer and face masks fly off American shelves the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), under the visage of Vice President Mike Pence’s task force, will reportedly ship over one million testing capabilities to hospitals and labs across the country by the end of the week.

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Azar has this advice to the American people.

“Use common sense,” he said, stressing that the overall risk of someone contracting novel coronavirus remains low.

Senior House Democratic leadership told Fox News the expect to vote on the supplemental spending bill for emergency coronavirus funding later Wednesday. It will need a two-thirds majority to pass.

Source: FoxNews

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