Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, makes remarks during a press conference with Press Secretary Jen Psaki at the White House in Washington, the United States, on April 13, 2021.
Tom Brenner | Reuters
The Senior Medical Advisor to the White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, expects Pfizer, Moderna, and Johnson & Johnson’s coronavirus vaccines to gain full approval from U.S. drug regulators, he told CNBC on Tuesday.
“The data is as good as it can be. … I would be amazed if these vaccines, namely the mRNA and the J&J, would not receive full approval, ”said Fauci in the“ Squawk Box ”.
All three Covid vaccines are currently approved in the U.S. for emergency use, but none of them have yet received full Food and Drug Administration approval. Full approval would allow drugmakers to market the shots directly to consumers and give employers more flexibility in how they should be commissioned.
Pfizer and Moderna’s two-dose vaccines use mRNA technology, while J & J’s single-shot vaccine uses an adenovirus.
More than 184 million people in the US, or 55.5% of the population, are at least partially vaccinated against Covid, according to CDC data. Almost 160 million people, or 48% of the population, are fully vaccinated.
The rate of vaccination in the US has slowed since the spring, although concerns about highly transmissible variants have grown. Some people have argued that full approval of the vaccines would convince Americans on the fence to get the syringes and give companies more confidence to implement vaccine mandates.
“While we’re still under an emergency clearance, it’s a little different from other emergency clearances that are usually issued with not nearly as much positive data as we have for these products,” said Fauci.
Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech were the first vaccine manufacturers to apply for full approval in May, followed by Moderna on June 1st. Both vaccines were released for restricted use in December.
“Its effectiveness or effectiveness in the real world is beyond dispute so we will get full approval,” he added. “The question is, it will just take a little more time.”
Fauci’s appearance on CNBC comes a day after U.S. health officials, including Fauci, met with representatives from vaccine maker Pfizer to discuss the possible need for Covid booster vaccinations.
Pfizer said it is seeing signs that immunity to its two-dose vaccine is declining over time and intends to seek approval for a booster vaccine. The company is also developing a booster to combat the highly contagious Delta variant.
The FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have publicly pushed back Pfizer’s case for a third dose and released a joint statement last week stating that people who are fully vaccinated currently do not need additional vaccination.
Fauci described that Monday’s conversation with Pfizer was mostly “a courtesy meeting”. However, he stressed that the booster vaccination discussion “has absolutely nothing to do with the effectiveness of the vaccine”.
“These vaccines are highly effective in both the clinical trial and the efficacy studies in the field. Let me give you a compelling example: 99.5% of people who die from Covid are unvaccinated, ”said Fauci, the long-time director of the National Institute for Allergies and Infectious Diseases.
He said the real question is how long the protection lasts and at what level of protection.
“Does it knock off, and if so, how quickly? And when you give it a boost, how high do you get the response? It was all discussed, but … there was nothing that came anywhere near a decision, ”he said.