Dr. Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease expert, said he is "cautiously optimistic" that some vaccines that are currently being developed in the U.S. will be ready within a reasonable time and effective to fight the spread of coronavirus.
According to The Daily Mail, Dr. Fauci said during The Wall Street Journal's Tech Health Conference on Tuesday, June 2, that he is optimistic about the jab being developed by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) with Moderna.
Last month, Moderna's vaccine showed a positive outcome as it started its second phase of human tests. The company said that it activated the production of antibodies, which is comparable to recovered coronavirus patients, which increased Moderna shares by 20%.
Fauci feels optimistic over Moderna's vaccine's effectivity; Hopes to release by January
However, criticisms about the accuracy of the data quickly followed as the announcement coincided with automated trading by the company's largest investor as well as the sale of shares of its two executives amounting to $30 million.
Medical experts also questioned the significance of the data results, which reported an increase in antibody levels among eight patients and raised questions on whether they are entirely positive.
However, NIAID Director Fauci said he and his collaborators "are optimistic we're going to be successful."
Moderna's jab is just one of the numerous vaccines currently being developed and Fauci expects that multiple studies will lead to effective results. With numerous vaccines being developed, Fauci believes several candidates "will arrive at that goal at approximately the same time." As of this writing, at least 124 vaccines are being developed worldwide.
"Cautiously optimistic" about the vaccine
Fauci is confident based on an antibody response seen in coronavirus patients who have recovered from the infection, which is not the case for every infectious disease. Moderna released its "positive data" on May 18.
"Given that the body can make a good response against coronavirus, we feel cautiously optimistic that if we mimic safely natural infection with our vaccine, we will be able to induce a response in a person that would be equivalent to the response that natural infection induces,' Dr. Fauci said during the virtual conference.
The eight volunteers who joined the trial had blood levels of neutralizing antibodies that may be able to block the coronavirus like those who had recovered from COVID-19.
Normally, only about 30% of drugs that undergo clinical trials make it to final-stage testing, so it is uncommon to make big announcements about early-stage tests that may have little bearing on the outcome of clinical trials.
University of Texas vaccine expert Dr. Peter Hotez noted on Twitter that some studies suggest that the level of antibodies in recovered patients' plasma might be insufficient to neutralize the virus. Thus, the trial's early results were "not necessarily good news." Nevertheless, the stock market responded positively over the news as the company share prices increased by 20%.
The company later gained $1.3 billion after Moderna chief medical officer Tal Zaks and chief technical officer Lawrence Kim sold their combined shares of nearly $30 million and the Moderna's primary venture capital investor sold a million of its shares, according to CNN.
The phase 2 trial for Moderna's shot launched early this week and will follow its participants for a year. Meanwhile, phase 3 of the trial is planned for next month with the hope to release the vaccine's first batch by January.