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WEDNESDAY, Oct. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Anthony Fauci, M.D., the leading infectious disease expert in the United States, said on Wednesday he is “cautiously optimistic” that a COVID-19 vaccine will be ready by year’s end.

Against the backdrop of a pandemic that has claimed more than 220,000 American lives, Fauci noted that the country’s “strategic approach” to vaccine development appears to be bearing fruit. Six U.S. companies, he said, are working around the clock to either facilitate vaccine trials or compile the supplies necessary to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine once it is ready. Multiple studies are testing three vaccine approaches, Fauci said. And five of those studies are already in phase 3.

“We feel confident that we will have an answer likely in mid-November to the beginning of December,” Fauci said, speaking at a virtual meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society of America.

While stressing there is no guarantee of success, Fauci said he is “cautiously optimistic that we will in fact have a safe and effective vaccine by the end of the year, which we can begin to distribute as we go into 2021.” At the same time, Fauci, director of the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, took pains to paint a realistic picture of the significant hurdles that lie ahead. There is “a great degree of skepticism and reluctance on the part of some populations to getting vaccinated,” he said.

Blacks and Hispanics in the United States are much less likely than Whites to say that they will definitely get vaccinated once the option becomes available, Fauci noted. “We have a challenge to get these people involved so we can allow them to be afforded the protection that we feel vaccines can give,” he added.

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