Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said Thursday medication to treat or prevent Covid-19 are not a “silver bullet” solution to the pandemic as it is predicted that people will have to wear masks and take social distancing measures well into 2021.
“I don’t see the therapeutics we have – or the vaccines that are coming – as silver bullets,” Frazier told CNBC.Squawk box“For the foreseeable future, people will still need to practice wearing masks and social distancing.”
“I think this is with us for a while, and I would say with confidence that we will still try to adhere to these public health measures well into 2021,” he said.
As coronavirus cases continue to rise to record highs, the U.S. is scrambling to develop and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine as part of the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed program. Some of these candidates are out Pfizer and Moderna have fully enrolled individuals in their clinical trials and could receive emergency clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the end of this year.
Frazier said “he is very optimistic that in the near future” there will be positive results from late-stage clinical trials for coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics. However, a potential vaccine is unlikely to be generally available to humans until mid-2021.
Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, previously advised lawmakers that it is A face mask could offer better protection against Covid-19, even if a vaccine is approved. That’s because of a possible vaccine that will likely to be available in limited quantities only 70% can be effective by the end of this year.
The effectiveness or immunogenicity, measures the ability of a vaccine build an immune response to the virus. Other top health professionals including White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, have said the probability to produce A highly effective Covid-19 vaccine that offers 98% or more guaranteed protection is slim.
“I think it’s a mistake to tell people … that it’s a silver bullet and that overnight we’ll be able to vaccinate enough people, treat enough people,” said Frazier. “The natural history of these viruses is that they won’t go away.”
“I don’t think we should tell people that they can expect to abandon these public health measures anytime soon,” he said.
Merck is developing two separate potential coronavirus vaccines, although it entered the race later than its counterparts. The company acquired the Austrian vaccine manufacturer Themis Bioscience, which is developing a Covid-19 vaccine together with the Pasteur Institute and the University of Pittsburgh, and began the phase 1 study in August.
Clinical trials for another vaccine that Merck is developing with the non-profit IAVI for scientific research are expected to begin this year, the company said earlier.
In collaboration with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, known as MK-4482, an oral therapeutic is also being made to fight Covid-19 in critically ill patients. Frazier told CNBC Thursday that it expects preliminary data from studies of the drug in early 2021.