Fauci: COVID-19 could be under control in 2022 if enough people get vaccinated

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Top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci responds to accusations by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., as he testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, July 20, 2021. Cases of COVID-19 have tripled over the past three weeks, and hospitalizations and deaths are rising among unvaccinated people. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, Pool)

WASHINGTON (WTVO) — Dr. Anthony Fauci said Monday if the “overwhelming majority” of the population gets vaccinated, the US could have the COVID-19 pandemic under control by spring of 2022.

Speaking to CNN‘s Anderson Cooper, the Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said, “We hope we’ll be there … but there’s no guarantee because it’s up to us.”

The U.S. gave full approval to Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine Monday, potentially boosting public confidence in the shots and instantly opening the way for more universities, companies and local governments to make vaccinations mandatory.

More than 200 million Pfizer doses have been administered in the U.S. under special emergency provisions — and hundreds of millions more worldwide — since December. In going a step further and granting full approval, the Food and Drug Administration cited months of real-world evidence that serious side effects are extremely rare.

President Joe Biden said that for those who hesitated to get the vaccine until it received what he dubbed the “gold standard” of FDA approval, “the moment you’ve been waiting for is here.”

“Please get vaccinated today,” he said.

Biden added that he is asking private companies to “step up the vaccine requirements that will reach millions more people.”

Pfizer said the U.S. is the first country to grant full approval of its vaccine, in a process that required a 360,000-page application and rigorous inspections. Never before has the FDA has so much evidence to judge a shot’s safety.

The formula, jointly developed with Germany’s BioNTech, will be marketed under the brand name Comirnaty.

Moderna has also applied to the FDA for full approval of its vaccine. Johnson & Johnson, maker of the third option in the U.S., said it hopes to do so later this year.

Just over half of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated. Vaccinations in this country bottomed out in July at an average of about a half-million shots per day, down from a peak of 3.4 million a day in mid-April. As the delta variant fills hospital beds, shots are on the rise again, with a million a day given Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

Full approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine means it meets the same “very high standards required of all the approved vaccines we rely on every day,” said Dr. Jesse Goodman of Georgetown University, a former FDA vaccine chief. That should help “anyone who still has concerns gain confidence” in the shots.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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