White House coronavirus task force coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx on Sunday said that while she’s “hopeful” for a vaccine, she’s also convinced that the spread of COVID-19 can be stopped through mask-wearing and social distancing.
Speaking at an event in Minnesota, Birx urged Americans to “do the right thing” now, so there are fewer cases of the virus in the fall, CNN reported.
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“Yes, I’m hopeful for a vaccine,” Birx said, “but I’m also very convinced right now that we can stop community spread by wearing masks, socially distancing and avoiding crowds.”
The physician pointed out that crowds aren’t limited to events such as concerts, but also backyard barbecues with 25 people who aren’t wearing masks.
Scientists and health experts have voiced concerns that President Trump might apply pressure on the Food and Drug Administration to approve a vaccine before November to increase his chances of winning another term.
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Large-scale clinical trials of the leading vaccine candidates from Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca were launched in recent weeks. Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson said it hoped to include 60,000 subjects in its Phase 3 trial, according to Reuters.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, another White House coronavirus expert, has warned against fast-tracking a vaccine through an emergency-use authorization before it is proven safe in large trials.
“One of the potential dangers if you prematurely let a vaccine out is that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the other vaccines to enroll people in their trial,” Fauci told Reuters last week.