Merck CEO says Covid vaccine won’t be a ‘silver bullet,’ predicts mask use for the ‘foreseeable future’

Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier mentioned Thursday that medicine to deal with or stop Covid-19 aren’t a “silver bullet” resolution to the pandemic, predicting individuals might want to put on masks and observe social distancing measures effectively into 2021.

“I don’t see the therapeutics that we have — or the vaccines that are coming — as a silver bullet,” Frazier informed CNBC’s “Squawk Box,” saying that folks will nonetheless need to observe mask sporting and social distancing “for the foreseeable future.”

“I think that’s with us for a while, and I would say certainly well into 2021 we’ll still be trying to observe these public health measures,” he mentioned.

As coronavirus instances proceed to surge to report highs, the U.S. is racing to develop and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine beneath the federal authorities’s Operation Warp Speed program. Some of these candidates from Pfizer and Moderna have totally enrolled individuals of their scientific trials and will be granted an emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the finish of this yr.

AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson are additionally conducting late-stage section three scientific trials.

Frazier mentioned “he’s very optimistic that in the near future” there’ll be optimistic outcomes coming from late-stage scientific trials for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics. However, a potential vaccine doubtless won’t be extensively out there for individuals till mid-2021.

Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, has beforehand informed lawmakers that a face mask might present higher safety in opposition to Covid-19, even when a vaccine is authorized. That’s as a result of a potential vaccine, which can doubtless be out there in restricted portions by the finish of this yr, could solely be 70% efficient.

The effectiveness, or immunogenicity, measures a vaccine’s capability to construct an immune response to the virus. Other high well being specialists, together with White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, have mentioned the chance of manufacturing a extremely efficient Covid-19 vaccine — one that gives 98% or extra assured safety — is slim.

“I think it’s a mistake to tell people … that it’s a silver bullet and overnight we’re going to be able to vaccinate enough people, treat enough people,” Frazier mentioned. “The natural history of these viruses is that they don’t go away.”

“I don’t think we should tell people that they can expect to give up on those public health measures anytime soon,” he mentioned.

Merck is growing two separate potential coronavirus vaccines, although it jumped into the race later than its friends. The firm acquired Austrian vaccine maker Themis Bioscience, which is growing a Covid-19 vaccine with Institut Pasteur and the University of Pittsburgh and started its section one trial in August.

Clinical trials for one other vaccine, which Merck is growing with scientific analysis nonprofit IAVI, are anticipated to start later this yr, the firm has beforehand mentioned.

It’s additionally producing an oral therapeutic in collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, often known as MK-4482, that may combat in opposition to Covid-19 in significantly unwell sufferers. Frazier informed CNBC on Thursday that he expects interim information from the drug’s trials in early 2021.

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