Anthony Fauci says coronavirus vaccine immunity is likely to be ‘finite’

July 7, 2020, 4:00 AM UTC

Any vaccine developed to ward off the novel coronavirus would likely be limited in how long it would shield against infection, top U.S. infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said Monday.

“You can assume that we’ll get protection at least to take us through this cycle,” Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an appearance on a live-streamed video conference hosted by the National Institutes of Health.

“We’re still knee-deep in the first wave” of the pandemic, Fauci said. Health officials are assuming a shot would offer a degree of protection, though it’s likely “going to be finite.”

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A shot to protect against Covid-19 won’t work like the measles vaccine, which lasts throughout a person’s lifetime, Fauci said. “We may need a boost to continue the protection, but right now we don’t know how long it lasts.”

Fauci said he expects the American public will have an answer before the end of the year or by early 2021 as to whether one of the more than 140 experimental shots in development has proven safe and effective.

In the meantime, Fauci said public health measures such as wearing a mask, social distancing, and frequent hand-washing should be used as a vehicle to a safe re-opening. “It’s not an obstacle, it’s a pathway to do that. We can’t create this binary thing where it’s ‘us against them,’” he said.

NIH Director Francis Collins, who led the interview with Fauci, responded, saying: “Even this issue tends to get polarized, maybe even politicized. Imagine that!”

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