As cases continue to rise, Americans looking to a vaccine as the way out of the coronavirus pandemic should consider a more comprehensive approach, a leading medical expert told CNN on Wednesday.
“Pinning all our hopes on a vaccine that works immediately is not the right strategy,” Dr. William Haseltine, a former professor at Harvard University’s medical and public health schools, told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer.
Haseltine said a broad public health strategy is a better way to contain the spread of the virus along with the help of a vaccine and therapeutic drugs. Mandating masks will help but Haseltine said, “we need a lot more than masks to contain this epidemic that’s running through our country like a freight train.”
Haseltine recommended closing bars and other places where young people congregate at night and ban holding large meetings in the worst-hit regions. Life won’t get better until people make major changes to their behavior and public health services come forward with more resources, he said.
He said a vaccine is still six months away at the earliest and he warned not to underestimate a coronavirus. Haseltine, known for his work on fighting cancer and HIV/AIDS, said it won’t be easy to develop a vaccine.
“These are tricky viruses,” he said. “It’s not as simple as measles or mumps. It’s going to be a lot more complicated”
Any Covid-19 vaccine that’s sponsored by the US government will be free or affordable for the American public, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told CNBC on Wednesday.
“For any vaccine that we have bought – so for instance the Pfizer vaccine – those hundred million doses would actually be acquired by the US government, then given for free to Americans,” Azar said.
He said the same would apply with the AstraZeneca and the Novovax vaccines.
“We will ensure that any vaccine that we’re involved in sponsoring is either free to the American people or is affordable,” Azar said.
More than 100,000 people have volunteered to participate in Covid-19 vaccine clinical trials, said Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I think we’ll be fine with regards to getting enough people,” Fauci said during a webinar Wednesday with the TB Alliance.