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Dr Fauci predicts ‘open season’ in US to receive Covid vaccine by April

'Virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated,' infectious disease expert says

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Thursday 11 February 2021 16:35 GMT
Dr Anthony Fauci says it could be 'open season' come April for who can receive a coronavirus vaccine

Limited supply and high demand for the Covid-19 vaccine has forced state and local governments to set strict eligibility requirements for who can receive the jab first.

With supply ramping up across the country, Dr Anthony Fauci, the director for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has predicted April will be "open season" for anyone who wants a vaccine.

"We have those priority [groups] – 1a, 1b, 1c," Dr. Fauci said on NBC's TodayShow Thursday morning. "If you look at the projection, I would imagine by the time we get to April, that will be what I would call for [lack of] better wording 'open season'. Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated."

But this prediction comes with a warning for anyone who thinks they'll be able to get the vaccine right away.

"It would likely take several more months, just logistically, to get vaccines into people's arms," he added.

President Joe Biden made the suggestion that the vast majority of Americans could be vaccinated by fall 2021 after his administration ramped-up manufacturing and distribution to states in his first weeks of office.

Dr Fauci confirmed the country was on track to reach that goal.

"We could have accomplished the goal of what we're talking about. Namely, the overwhelming majority of people in this country having gotten vaccinated," he said.

Vaccine supplies are still limited at the moment, and states have opened up eligibility to a variety of different demographics including those 65 years and older, teachers, and people with underlying health conditions that put them at greater risk if they contract Covid-19.

More than 65 million doses of the vaccine have been distributed to states and 44 million were administered, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Jeffrey Zients, Mr Biden's coronavirus czar, revealed the country was now administering an average of 1.5 million vaccine doses per day, putting the country on track to meet the president's goal of 100 million doses administered in his first 100 days of office.

But increasing supply would not be the only necessary step to get all Americans vaccinated at a time when several highly transmissible Covid-19 variants have spread through the country.

Confidence in the vaccine would also have to increase among segments of the population.

About one-third of Americans said they definitely or probably won't receive the coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available to them, according to a poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The poll found that 67 per cent of Americans said they would receive the vaccine or already have received it, but there were 15 per cent who were certain they won't and 17 per cent who said they probably won't get the jab. Those who were against the vaccine expressed concerns of vaccine safety and efficacy.

Resistance was higher among younger Americans, people without a college degree, Black Americans, and Republicans, according to the poll.

This hesitancy comes nearly two months into the vaccine rollout process.

Dr Fauci previously estimated that about 70 to 85 per cent of Americans would need to receive the coronavirus vaccine in order to achieve herd immunity against the novel virus.

Although April could bring "open season" on vaccine eligibility for all Americans, confidence in the treatment would need to improve so more of the public gets the jab when it becomes available.

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