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Dr. Fauci says Moderna COVID-19 vaccine news 'impressive'

Fauci projected that by the end of December there will be coronavirus vaccine doses available for people who are considered high risk.

WASHINGTON — The United States' top infectious disease expert says news from Moderna that its COVID-19 vaccine candidate is 94.5% effective “is really quite impressive.”

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s “Today” on Monday that Moderna’s finding, along with similar results from Pfizer last week for its vaccine, “is something that foretells an impact on this outbreak.”

“So now we have two vaccines that are really quite effective, so I think this is a really strong step forward to where we want to be about getting control with this outbreak,” Fauci said.

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Asked about the timeline for vaccinating people, Fauci projected that by the end of December, there will be doses available for people at high risk from the coronavirus.

Fauci said the Moderna and Pfizer vaccines have different platforms than other vaccines now in the pipeline. But he said the other vaccine platforms are using the “spike protein" of the coronavirus which has been researched very intensively, giving him hope that more than two of these vaccines will also be effective.

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For most people, the new coronavirus causes mild or moderate symptoms. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia and death.

The United States has nearly 11 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

As of Monday, the U.S. had more than 246,000 deaths from the virus. Worldwide, there are more than 54 million confirmed cases with more than 1.3 million deaths.

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