BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - Dr. Anthony Fauci, one of the lead members of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, and Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, one of the world’s most influential research scientists and advocates in vaccine development and policy, delivered keynote addresses to more than 2,000 trainees, faculty, staff Wednesday as part of the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s virtual COVID-19 Research Symposium.
Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, gave the symposium’s kickoff keynote address where he was welcomed and introduced by Dr. Michael Saag. Fauci spoke for almost 20 minutes on the public health and scientific challenges of the historic COVID-19 pandemic and what is next, which he hopes is a vaccine candidate in the very near future.
“I can predict, I believe with some degree of certainty, that by the end of November to the beginning of December, we will know — based on the size of the trial and rate of infections that are ongoing in this country — if we will have a safe and effective vaccine,” Fauci said. “I feel cautiously optimistic that we will have a safe and effective vaccine even though you can never make absolute predictions when it comes to vaccinology.”
Neuzil, director for the Center for Vaccine Development and professor in the departments of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, concluded the symposium with a second keynote address highlighting the work on national COVID-19 vaccines.
Neuzil noted in her talk that “UAB has been a major player” in vaccine trial design and execution due to the leadership role played by UAB faculty in groups including the Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium and HIV Prevention Trials Network.
UAB is involved in more than a dozen clinical trials testing potential therapies for COVID-19. Numerous research projects have been funded in part by the Urgent COVID Research Fund, a philanthropic support fund established in late spring.
A list of 22 clinical trials UAB is currently involved in is available at Clinicaltrials.gov.