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Dr. Fauci hoping to get COVID-19 vaccine within 'next few days'

The nation's top infectious disease expert estimates the general public should be able to start getting vaccinated within 2-4 months and says the Moderna vaccine could roll out within days pending approval.
/ Source: TODAY

Dr. Anthony Fauci hopes to receive the coronavirus vaccine just a few days ahead of his 80th birthday and Christmas.

The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases shared on TODAY Friday when he expects to receive his first vaccine shot as millions of health care workers and high-risk individuals across the country get it this week.

"I’m ready to go," Fauci told Savannah Guthrie. "We’re waiting for the supply to come in to the NIH. We haven't gotten our supply yet. I hope it's coming in the next couple of days. If it does, I’m going to get vaccinated as soon as I can. I hope that's going to be within the next few days to the early part of next week."

Fauci hopes to follow Vice President Mike Pence, who publicly received the vaccine Friday, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who have also said they will get the vaccine to reassure the public about its safety and efficacy.

Fauci, who turns 80 on Dec. 24, shared his hopes for vaccination a day after the Food and Drug Administration's advisory panel recommended a vaccine made by Moderna to be approved by the FDA.

The Moderna vaccine is expected to receive approval quickly and could join the previously-approved Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine in being rolled out to high-risk and priority groups across the country.

"I would anticipate that we likely will see shots in the arm by the very early part of next week," Fauci said about the Moderna vaccine. "I would hope Monday or Tuesday, but we'll just have to wait to see for the final decision (by the FDA). But very soon, literally within a few days."

The vaccines can't come soon enough, as the country reported a single-day record 243,645 cases of coronavirus on Thursday, according to an NBC News tally. There also were 3,288 deaths, just five shy of Wednesday's single-day record of 3,293 deaths.

Hospitals are being overwhelmed coast to coast, with California ordering 5,000 new body bags and some hospitals setting up makeshift treatment areas in parking lots.

"It's a tough situation, we're sitting here talking about vaccines which is such a positive thing, but all of this is sort of bittersweet because at the same time, as we're moving ahead with what will ultimately be the answer and the final solution to this, we're living through very, very difficult times," Fauci said. "We can't just say, 'Well there's vaccine on the horizon, so let's just forget about everything else.'

"We're in a difficult situation so we've got to do both. We've got to proceed with the rollout of the vaccine, but we've got to make sure we stay with the public health measures."

As far as when the general public can expect to be able to receive the vaccine, Fauci generally agreed with the timeline of Alex Azar, the secretary of the Department of Health and Human services, who told TODAY on Monday that he thinks that by late February into March the vaccine will be widely available.

"I have been saying end of March, beginning of April," Fauci said. "It really depends on how successfully and effectively we roll out the higher priorities. ... Once you get through the priority list, then you could sort of say it's open season for anyone who is not necessarily on a priority list like the normal man and woman on the street who has no underlying condition. That likely will be somewhere March-ish. I said March-April, February-March, it's going to be a close call on that."