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The United States could get COVID-19 under control by early next year if vaccinations ramp up, Dr. Anthony Fauci says, one day after Pfizer won fuller FDA approval for its shot, with more potential approvals coming in the weeks ahead.
Fauci, the nation's top infectious disease expert, said in multiple television interviews that full Food and Drug Administration approval for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine paved the way for more people to get inoculated, with potential approval for Moderna's and Johnson & Johnson's vaccines in coming weeks and approval for young children possibly this autumn.
"If we get the overwhelming majority of those 80 to 90 million people who have not yet been vaccinated, who have been reluctant to get vaccinated or have not had the opportunity, I believe we can see light at the end of the tunnel," he told NBC's Today program on Tuesday.
"We can turn this thing around," he told MSNBC.
Fauci, head of the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC he expects Moderna and Johnson & Johnson to secure full FDA approval "relatively soon", possibly within several weeks to one month.
"I think there's a reasonable chance" that Pfizer or Moderna could get FDA approval for younger children before the upcoming holiday season, he told NBC News. "Hopefully by the mid-late fall and early winter."
National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, however, in a separate interview on National Public Radio, said he did not expect approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech shot for children under age 12 until the end of 2021.
The United States is battling another wave of cases as the highly contagious Delta variant takes hold, with infections rising to 147,420 new reported daily infections on average. Hospitalisations and deaths are also rising, particularly in Florida, Texas and other parts of the US south.
US health officials have also noted the number of inoculations has also risen in recent weeks and say they hope Monday's FDA action spurs more people get their first shots.
Pfizer and its partner BioNTech secured full FDA approval on Monday. Moderna and J&J's vaccines remain authorised under FDA emergency use authorisation, although Moderna has filed for full approval.