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Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

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On Wednesday, May 19, Axios co-founder Mike Allen and health care reporter Caitlin Owens unpacked the unprecedented COVID-19 vaccine development process as well as the road ahead, featuring NIAID Director Anthony Fauci and Pfizer chairman & CEO Albert Bourla.

Anthony Fauci discussed the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and equity, covering everything from the CDC advisory on masks, to airline policies, to the importance of vaccinations across age groups.

  • On when people can expect to fly without a mask: "I hope that we get enough people vaccinated that at least on domestic flights, it would be a matter of months. The issue globally is a different story because we can do a very good job of getting the overwhelming majority of our population vaccinated in the United States. Yet you can have a raging infection in other parts of the world."
  • On media coverage of COVID-19: "I think in general, the mainstream media has served our audiences really quite well. I believe it's done a pretty accurate accounting of the facts. We have some fringe media that get involved in conspiracy theories and denials and false alternative facts and denials of reality that's sitting right in front of you. So I think that you don't have to divide the media into the standard classical media and then some of the fringe media."

Albert Bourla unpacked the vaccine manufacturing process, his view on patents, and when the public should expect to need a vaccine booster shot.

  • On the need for a COVID-19 booster shot: “The data that I see coming, they are supporting the notion that likely there will be a need for a booster somewhere between 8 and 12 months.”
  • On making a vaccine that can be stored in higher temperatures: "We are right now working on a new version of this vaccine that will be a ready-to-use vaccine, so you don't need to reconstitute it, you don't need to dilute it...This vaccine can be stored up to six months in normal refrigeration."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top Segment with PhRMA president and CEO Stephen J. Ubl discussed the feat of testing and approving the COVID-19 vaccine on such an accelerated timeline.

  • "It took over two years during the SARS epidemic to get the first candidate vaccine into human trials. So it really is a remarkable feat for the industry to have developed essentially a new class of medicine and vaccines and therapeutics and to do it inside a calendar year."

Thank you PhRMA for sponsoring this conversation.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
May 19, 2021 - Health

Fauci says people are "misinterpreting" the new CDC mask guidance

Anthony Fauci. Photo: Mandel Ngan-AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci told me for an Axios virtual event airing later today that many Americans are "misinterpreting" the CDC's new mask guidance, which lets vaccinated individuals forego masks indoors.

What he's saying: "I think people are misinterpreting, thinking that this is a removal of a mask mandate for everyone. It's not," Fauci told me. "It's an assurance to those who are vaccinated that they can feel safe, be they outdoors or indoors."

May 20, 2021 - Health

Vaccine boosters could be necessary as soon as September

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The first Americans to be vaccinated against the coronavirus could require a third "booster" shot as early as September, the CEOs of Pfizer and Moderna told Axios.

Driving the news: "The data that I see coming, they are supporting the notion that likely there will be a need for a booster somewhere between eight and 12 months," Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said yesterday during an Axios event.