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Dr. Fauci says he's 'cautiously optimistic' of COVID vaccine by year's end

The infectious disease expert was speaking before Congress on Tuesday.

The government's leading infectious disease expert says he's "cautiously optimistic" there will be a vaccine for COVID-19 by the end of the year.

Dr. Anthony Fauci was speaking before a House committee on Tuesday, and said he believes it "will be when and not if" there's a vaccine.

But he also urged caution from states thinking about reopening early with adequate safeguards in place, noting a "disturbing surge of infections" in recent weeks in states that have opened up, including Florida, Arizona, and Texas.

"We are not mounting a major effort in which we're collaborating with industry and public-private partnerships, to get vaccine trials that are developed, that harmonize with each other – in other words they have multiple trials," he said.

"One of them [the vaccines currently being trialed] will enter Phase 3 study in July. This is one that has already shown in some preliminary studies, a very favorable response in the animal models that were developed.

"There will be others that will follow one month, two months, three months later, although can never guarantee at all the safety and efficacy of a vaccine until you actually test it in the field, we field cautiously optimistic based on the concerted effort and the fact we're taking financial risks ... to be able to be ahead of the game so that when, and I believe it will be when and not if, we get favorable candidates with good results, we will be able to make them available to the American public within a year of when we started, which would put us at the end of this calendar year, and the beginning of 2021."

The coronavirus pandemic has taken a terrible toll on the U.S. so far, with 122,000 confirmed deaths in the five-plus months since it first arrived on these shores.

Dr. Fauci said that contrary to President Donald Trump's comments at his Tulsa rally over the weekend, he has not received any order to slow the rate of testing, with the president having suggested that testing for COVID-19 is a "double-edged sword" as it reveals the true extent of the virus.

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