The prospect of a COVID-19 vaccine by colleges’ fall reopening time is “a bridge too far,’ said Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s preeminent infectious diseases expert, at a Senate hearing on Tuesday, reported The Boston Globe.
At the hearing, Tennessee Senator Lamar Alexander asked Dr. Fauci, a key member of the president’s coronavirus task force, to look three months ahead and talk about what he foresees in terms of a treatment or a vaccine for COVID-19.
“What would you say to the chancellor of the University of Tennessee Knoxville or the principal of the public school about how to persuade parents and students how to return to school in August?” asked Senate Republican Alexander, who on Sunday indicated he isn’t in favor of colleges and universities reopening as normal in the fall.
Dr. Fauci’s reply: “I would be very realistic with the chancellor and tell her that in this case, that the idea of having treatments available, or a vaccine, to facilitate the reentry of students into the fall term would be something of a bit of a bridge too far.”
Earlier in the hearing, Dr. Fauci said there are currently eight vaccine candidates in development, and that he’s hopeful there will be one in advanced trials by late fall or early winter. Meanwhile, current treatments have only shown “modest” efficacy.
“If this were a situation where you had a vaccine, that would really be the end of the issue in a positive way. But as I mentioned in my opening remarks, even at the top speed we’re going, we don’t see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term.”
As of now, some colleges have said they will reopen fully this fall as residential campuses with in-person classes. A few have said they will remain online only this coming fall. Most have yet to decide what their fall semester will look like.