White House health advisor and the country's top epidemiologist, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said COVID-19 pandemic has turned out to be his "worst nightmare" coming to life.
Coronavirus is "something that's highly transmissible," Fauci said, adding that it devastated the world in just a period of four months. And he warned that it is not over yet. All of it has condensed in a very small time frame, said the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). Fauci was speaking with the BIO Digital virtual health-care conference aired Tuesday, reported CNBC.
The novel coronavirus surfaced in China's Wuhan by the end of December and hit China with full force in January. The virus spread to the rest of the world in the following months. The pathogen has infected more than 7.2 million people globally, killing not less than 411,170, according to Johns Hopkins University data.
Historically Worst Pandemic
Fauci said that the SARS-CoV-2 virus was very different from other pandemic potential viruses such as Ebola and HIV. He said that the new virus jumped from an animal host, and has a high degree of transmissibility and mortality.
He termed this as historically one of the worst pandemics the world ever experienced, noting that people compared it with the Spanish flu of 1918.
Though Ebola was scary, Fauci said it was never "easily transmitted in a global way," and HIV was drawn out over an extended period of time. However, the impact of AIDS will be greater than anything we're talking about now, he said, adding that the coronavirus just took over the planet.
Our Travel Capability is Also a Reason
In addition to the extraordinarily high levels transmission rate of the coronavirus, increased global travel of the humans is also one of the reasons for such a spread, Fauci said. He noted that the virus started in a well-defined place, but as people travelled across the world it reached far-off places fast.
Fast Track Vaccine Development
He also praised the pharmaceutical industry, saying it "stepped up to the plate" to the need compared to SARS.
More than 124 COVID-19 vaccine candidates are under development as of now, according to the WHO. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is also fast-tracking the work with biotech company Moderna, which has a potential vaccine with successful initial trials. The comply will enroll almost 30,000 people as the phase three trial starts in July.
Fauci commented that the pharma industry is not stupid because they figured out that there will be more than one winner in the vaccine field as vaccines are needed for the whole world and in "billions and billions of doses."
"I'm almost certain that we're going to have multiple candidates that make it to the goal line get approved and get widely used," he said. The industry has outpaced public health response in some respect, he added.