Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of National Institute of Allergy and Infections Diseases, told journalists in Washington DC on Wednesday that there's a low likelihood that a vaccine for the deadly coronavirus will be fully developed and available until about "a year to a year and a half" from now.

"We would have a vaccine, that we would be putting into trials to see if it's safe and if it induces a response that you would predict would be protective in about three months. I think it's going to be a little bit less than that, it's probably going to be closer to two months," said Dr. Fauci.

"That would then take about three months to determine if it's safe and immunogenic, which gives us six months. Then you graduate from a trial which is phase one of 45 people to a trial that involves hundreds, if not low thousands, of people to determine efficacy. At the earliest an efficacy trial would take an additional six to eight months. So although this is the fastest we have ever gone from a sequence of a virus to a trial, it still will not be any applicable to the epidemic unless we'd really wait about a year to a year and a half," he said.

Fauci added that "we have every reason to believe it is quite conceivable that it will happen, will go beyond just a season and come back and recycle next year," and that in this case, a vaccine should be ready for it.

He went on to say that "there are a number of antiviral drugs that are being tested.... that we will know reasonably soon whether it works. And if it does, we will then have an effective therapy to distribute."

According to the latest reports by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), at least 81,000 people have been infected by the COVID-19 so far and over 2,700 people have died.

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