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Fauci expects a billion vaccine doses by end-2021

WASHINGTON Drugmakers will likely have tens of millions of doses of coronavirus vaccines in the early part of next year, Dr Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious diseases official, said on Wednesday, offering a more conservative view than some Trump administration officials.

Dr Fauci said there could be a billion doses available by the end of 2021. The pandemic has claimed more than 700,000 lives worldwide.

US Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar said last month the US would have hundreds of millions of vaccine doses by early 2021.

Those goals are possible only because drugmakers have agreed to manufacture large supplies of their vaccines even before they know whether they work, in order to save time.

"The federal government has put more than one egg in the basket," Dr Fauci said. "We have a pretty comprehensive portfolio that's going to subsequently be going into clinical trials."

He said there might be an indication that at least one vaccine works and is safe by year end.

"I'm cautiously optimistic that we will have a vaccine that's effective enough to get approved," he said.

That will not happen because of any pressure to have a vaccine available in time for the Nov 3 presidential election, he said.

Health regulators have promised "they are not going to let political considerations interfere" with the need to deliver a safe vaccine, he said.

The US added 1,262 more deaths to its Covid-19 toll in the 24 hours ending at 8.30am yesterday (Singapore time), according to a tally by Johns Hopkins University.

It also added 53,158 new cases in that time.

The US has now 4,818,328 cases in all, with 157,930 deaths, making it by far the worst-hit country in the world.

President Donald Trump still remained optimistic, saying: "This thing's going away. It will go away like things go away and my view is that schools should be open." - REUTERS, AFP

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