Dr Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has warned that if not enough people take the vaccine for COVID-19, then the US may never achieve herd immunity.

He told CNN in an interview that he would settle for a vaccine that is 70-75 per cent effective, but combined with the fact that many Americans will refuse to take the vaccine, it becomes more likely that herd immunity will not be accomplished.

Even with a potential vaccine only months away as scientists work around the clock to develop it, there are over 10 million people worldwide with the coronavirus, and the anti-vaxxer movement means the virus may never be fully eradicated.

Dr Fauci told CNN, he said: “The best we’ve ever done is measles, which is 97 to 98 per cent effective. That would be wonderful if we get there. I don’t think we will. I would settle for 70, 75 per cent effective vaccine.”

A poll conducted by CNN showed that a third of American citizens would not try to get a vaccine when it is available, regardless of the price.

Dr Fauci explained that the anti-science, anti-authority, and anti-vaccine feelings of Americans represent an “alarmingly large percentage of people”, and that there is still lots of work to be done, stating “Anyone [who] thinks it will be easy is not facing reality. It’s going to be very difficult.”

He said that the US government has developed a vaccine education programme to counteract the anti-vaxxer movement, but currently, there is no sign of the program being put to use. A spokesperson from the US Department of Health and Human Services said he could not confirm the existence of such a program.

A vaccine developed by a team at Oxford University is thought of as the most promising candidate so far and is currently being tested on 10,000 volunteers, including the over 70s and 5-12-year-olds.

Professor Andrew Pollard, head of the Oxford Vaccine Group explained that clinical studies are progressing very well, and they are now conducting studies on how well the vaccine-induced immune responses in older adults, and if it will be suitable for protecting the wider population.

“We are very grateful to the huge support of the trial volunteers in helping test whether this new vaccine could protect humans against the pandemic coronavirus,” he said.

Initial reports on the progress of the hunt for a vaccine had pencilled in August as a potential date for availability, but experts have warned that this now might be October.

Speaking during a webinar this week, Professor Adrian Hill, director of the Jenner Institute at the University of Oxford, explained that the ‘best scenario’ would see results from the trial in August and September, with deliveries from October.

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