JAVMA News logo

October 01, 2020

White House adviser Fauci delivers thanks, updates on COVID-19

Published on
information-circle This article is more than 3 years old

White House adviser and infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci, MD, thanked veterinarians for aiding human health through the study of animals.

Dr. Fauci
Anthony Fauci, MD

He recorded a message to attendees of the AVMA Virtual Convention 2020 that played on Aug. 22. Dr. Fauci expressed gratitude for veterinarians’ contributions to the nation’s health, particularly through a one-health approach, and expressed hope a COVID-19 vaccine will be available in 2021. He said research so far, including studies on nonhuman primates, indicate a vaccine against the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be safe and effective.

Dr. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, delivered a 6-minute address on the state of the pandemic and ongoing work to develop treatments and vaccines. He recorded the address earlier in the month and, citing figures from Aug. 5, predicted the U.S. would have more than 5 million infections and well over 160,000 deaths by the time the video aired.

“Clearly, by the time you hear this talk, there will be a significant number of new infections,” he said.

Discussing studies involving animals, Dr. Fauci noted that results of a National Institutes of Health–funded study of one vaccine, known as mRNA-1273, showed that the vaccine reduced viral replication in the lungs of rhesus macaques and reduced shedding in their upper airways. The vaccine was co-developed by the NIH and the biotechnology firm Moderna.

On July 27, NIH officials announced the start of a Phase 3 clinical trial for the mRNA-1273 vaccine and said they expected to enroll about 30,000 adults.

“Moderna is leading the trial as the regulatory sponsor and is providing the investigational vaccine for the trial,” the announcement states. “The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and NIAID are providing funding support for the trial.”

Dr. Fauci said he was cautiously optimistic the trial would show the vaccine was safe and effective by the end of 2020 and a vaccine would become available starting in 2021. He noted that the vaccine was one of three in Phase 3 clinical trials.

He also noted the importance of a one-health approach to medicine, as human health is connected with the health of animals in a shared environment.

“Emerging and reemerging zoonotic infections are truly a perpetual challenge, with 70%-75% of all new infections emerging from an animal host,” he said.