The process of getting a United States coronavirus vaccine candidate into a Phase I trial was at record speed, according to the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, reports the CNN.
"The Chinese put on the open database, the sequence, on the 10th of January. On the 11th of January, we had a meeting with our staff and said, 'We got to jump on this.' On the 15th, we began the development of a vaccine of January. Sixty-two days later, we had a product that we put into clinical trial, in a Phase I to see if it's safe and does it induce an immune response. That is overwhelmingly the quickest that has ever been done," Fauci said in an episode of the US Department of Health and Human Services' podcast "Learning Curve" on Wednesday.
Fauci explained that there are "a number of steps to develop a vaccine" and the reason the US was able to do the process so quickly was because they proceeded at "what's called at-risk. Not at-risk for safety, not at-risk for scientific integrity, but at-risk for finances."
"What happens is that in the standard way of developing a vaccine, you don't jump to invest in the next step until you're pretty sure that the step you're in is working," Fauci said.
"Given the fact that we needed to do this as quickly as possible without sacrificing safety or scientific integrity, the federal government partnered with multiple of these companies and said, 'Guess what, we're going to move fast and we're going to assume we're going to be successful. And if we are, we've saved several months. And if we're not, the only thing we've lost is money."
"But better lose money than lose lives by delaying the vaccine.' So, right now, the initial data from the study showed that — it makes me cautiously optimistic that we can induce a response that would be protective."