National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, regarded as the nation's top infectious disease expert, testified in front of Congress on Tuesday, stating that a coronavirus vaccine could be available to the public by the end of this year at the earliest or possibly by the beginning of 2021, according to predictions.Fauci testified in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee regarding the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic alongside other leading medical officials such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield, Department of Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Brett Giroir and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Steven Hahn.Israel recently signed an agreement with Moderna for the future purchase of its potential COVID-19 vaccine, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday - they have been lauded as a frontrunner to be the first biotech firm to produce a vaccine following their "positive interim" Phase I data."Israel has signed with the company Moderna an arrangement that will allow us to buy vaccines," Netanyahu said, according to a statement from his office. "The company is advancing its development, they claim they can achieve it by the middle of next year, we hope that they succeed."The testifying medical officials noted that even though many of these trials have been accelerated, they will not release the vaccine to the public unless they know it's safe and effective.“Acceleration is not cutting corners with respect to the assessment of safety and effectiveness,” the FDA commissioner Hahn, testified according to Vox. “The American people can rely on the fact FDA has many experts in the vaccine area.”With regard to the situation at home, Fauci also said on Tuesday the US was currently seeing a disturbing surge of infections in a number of states like Texas, Florida and Arizona. He said one reason infections were rising in those states was an increase in community spread."Right now the next couple of weeks are going to be critical in our ability to address those surges we are seeing in Florida, Texas, Arizona, and other states," he said.US health officials last week warned that states seeing a spike in COVID-19 cases may need to reimpose strict restrictions similar to what was implemented in March.US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said that better US testing has led to a higher number of identified coronavirus cases across the country, and at a political rally on Saturday he said he had asked for a slowdown in testing. The White House made clear on Monday that no such request was made.Fauci cautioned a week prior, that the "blips" of rising coronavirus hospitalizations being reported by some states could get out of control if robust contact tracing regimes are not put in place. Fauci underscored that increased hospitalizations was a worrying trend, however, and a sign that "maybe we need to slow down a little" on reopenings.So far, more than 121,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States, and the country itself has registered nearly 2.34 million cases of the novel coronavirus since the first cases were identified in Wuhan, China back in December 2019, according to the CDC.“We feel cautiously optimistic, based on the concerted effort and the fact we are taking financial risks — not risks to safety, not risks to the integrity of the science, but financial risk to be able to be ahead of the game — so that when, and I believe it will be when and not if, we get favorable candidates with good results, we will be able to make them available to the American public,” Fauci testified Tuesday, according to Vox. “It would put us at the end of this calendar year and the beginning of 2021.”Fauci mentioned - by name - biotech firm Moderna, who two weeks prior confirmed it plans to start a trial of 30,000 volunteers to evaluate its much-anticipated coronavirus vaccine in July as the company enters the final stage of testing. The NIAID, which Fauci heads, is leading Moderna's Phase II trial.