A vaccine for COVID-19 is on the horizon. However, there are still a lot of questions to be answered about what to be expected when it is available sometime this winter — including how long a single vaccination will last. During a live Q&A with National Institute of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease doctor, revealed some details about the upcoming vaccine. Read on, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
What Did Dr. Fauci Say About the Vaccine
Dr. Collins said to Dr. Fauci: "So many people are asking about the vaccine in terms of what the duration of protection is likely to be. Do you want to comment on what we know and what we don't know about that?"
"We do not know what the duration is going to be," Fauci confessed. "We have to look at a couple of things. One of those is the "really clear cut indications of re-infections that people get after they recover from the identical virus," he pointed out.
According to Fauci, the COVID-19 vaccine won't be a one-and-done vaccine like the measles or a once-yearly shot like influenza.
"So we can say that the durability of coronavirus immunity as it were, the word that we use protection, is likely not going to be along the magnitude of measles, which as you know, measles is virtually lifelong — if you get a prime and a boost the protection is 97, 98% lifelong," he explained, adding that it's "likely not going to be that."
"We hope it will be at least a year or two, so that we can get through a cycle of a season or two. And then if we need to boost fine, we'll go with a boost. But right now we have to say, we do not know what the durability of the protection will be of the vaccine," he continued.
As for the potential to mutate "along the lines of what you see with influenza, which necessitates an upgrading of the vaccine virtually every year," he says it's probably not there. However, "it certainly is mutating," but not to the extent "that's going to have an impact on the vaccine itself."
He also points out that just because "the level of antibodies diminish, that doesn't mean you lose protection, because you wouldn't want to have a lot of antibody being pumped out indefinitely," he said. "You go down and you have what's called memory cells that are there. And that if you get re-exposed, even if the level of antibody is not that high," you will still have some degree of protection against the virus.
"We're not a hundred percent sure how it lasts, but this is something that's going to be followed very carefully," he added.
Dr. Fauci Said when the Vaccine Might be Revealed
As for when the vaccine will be here, Fauci projects that we will know "sometime in December, whether or not we have a safe and effective vaccine and practically speaking, when we'll be able to deploy that vaccine and get it to those individuals who need it the most," he said. "I would think conservatively, it would be sometime at the very end of December or the beginning of January." Until then, to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.