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Health experts timeline when to expect COVID-19 vaccine

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) — “We got the vaccines coming very soon.”

After initially suggesting COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by Election Day, President Donald Trump is now telling his followers it’s right around the corner.

During an online chat Thursday, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in fact we won’t know until December at the earliest if there is a safe and effective vaccine.

“When will we be able to deploy that vaccine and get it to those individuals that need it the most, I would think conservatively the very end of December or the beginning of January,” Dr. Fauci said.

A handful of companies are now working on vaccines, two of them had to put a pause on trials to investigate safety issues.

That’s why infectious disease specialists at UCSF believe that December-January timeline may be too overly optimistic.

“There may be data showing there is efficacy in a vaccine by the end of this calendar year, but in terms of someone sticking their arm out to get vaccine probably not until spring of 2021,” Dr. Peter Chin-Hong said.

UCSF Infectious Disease Specialist Dr. Peter Chin-Hong says spring is a more realistic timeline for high-risk populations given trial delays, reviews of those trials and the complications involved in distributing a vaccine.

“Some of the vaccines required ultra cold temperatures like -70–80 degrees celsius so it’s not just like keeping it in a fridge its very complex and there is such a need for vaccinations that it will take a while,” he said.

That spring timeline is for those at most risk, health care workers and seniors.

So what about distribution for the rest of us? Experts at UCSF say that likely won’t be until summer or fall. 

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