NEW JERSEY -- Governor Phil Murphy was joined by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, Thursday morning for a live virtual conversation on COVID-19 (coronavirus) in New Jersey. The national expert in infectious disease said that he often points to New Jersey, which was among the first states to be “hit badly as cases came in from Europe,” as an example of how “to do things gradually and prudently to get the economy open.”

Fauci said that he was “pleased and encouraged about New Jersey” as it shows that “you can carefully, prudently open the economy. You can get through the fall and winter,” he said, noting that in other parts of the country there are 35,000 to 45,000 new cases of coronavirus per day.

Murphy asked Fauci about the potential for a coronavirus vaccine to be available in the near future, drawing a response that with six different pharmaceutical companies working currently to develop one.it may be possible that one may be available in November or December.

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“There already is a reluctance in this country to get vaccinated,” said Fauci. “We need to build trust and outreach that what we are doing is transparent.”

At the governor’s prompting, Fauci explained the ongoing vaccine development process, saying that between 30,000 and 60,000 individuals participate in trials for each vaccine. 

Fauci said that three factors are considered by an independent group of individuals who are “not beholden to the FDA, the president or me” when reviewing the data from drug trials. The group looks at whether “things are going well” with the patient trials; if more infection develops in the group given the vaccine that those given a placebo; or if there is enough of a “difference in the group given the vaccine that you cross the threshold of efficacy,” Fauci said.  

Once an initial vaccine is approved, likely under emergency approval by the FDA, Fauci believes that it may only be 70 to 75 percent effective. He called a vaccine “an important tool to supplement public health measures.”

Asked by Murphy if he expects the public to embrace a vaccine, Fauci said he believes that 75 to 80 percent of Americans being vaccinated by the end of 2021 would be a good accomplishment.  

As far as a traditional flu vaccine as the season is coming Fauci encouraged the public to get one saying “let’s utilize it.” He noted that in the Southern Hemisphere which just passed through their winter season they experienced a “double positive whammy” in bringing down the cased of the flu and COVID.

Murphy asked if the doctor expected a “second wave” of the pandemic.

“A second wave is a bit of an oxymoron since some states are still in the first wave,” said Fauci. “New Jersey’s baseline is good so you are at an advantage” going into the winter months.

Fauci encouraged New Jerseyans to stay the course in observing public health measures to keep the cases in the state down.

“We’re all in this together; we will end it together.”

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