Health experts call for safety measures with COVID-19 vaccine candidates’ review process

Health experts call for safety measures with COVID-19 vaccine candidates’ review process
FILE - In this March 16, 2020, file photo, a patient receives a shot in the first-stage safety study clinical trial of a potential vaccine for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus, at the Kaiser Permanente Washington Health Research Institute in Seattle. When precious vats of COVID-19 vaccine are finally ready, the ability to jab the lifesaving solution into the arms of Americans will require hundreds of millions of injections. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File) (Ted S. Warren)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Health experts are warning that a COVID-19 vaccine won’t be effective if not enough people are willing to get vaccinated and they are calling on the federal government to take steps to gain the public’s trust in the process.

“Building confidence in COVID-19 vaccines is essential because the best vaccine in the world won’t work if it isn’t used,” said Dr. Ruth Karron, Director of the Center for Immunization Research at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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There are more than 200 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in development around the world.

“We must expedite developing a vaccine, but we cannot cut corners in the process,” said. Rep. Raja Krishnamoorthi (D-Illinois).

Researchers are speeding up the process for a COVID-19 vaccine which normally takes several years to complete.

“Operation warp speed enables steps in the vaccine process to happen simultaneously,” said. Rep. Michael Cloud (R-Texas). “It doesn’t skip steps.”

Health experts testified to members of the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy about the guardrails needed to ensure public safety.

“We need strong evidence of effectiveness,” said. Dr. Jesse Goodman from the Center on Medical Product Access, Safety and Stewardship (COMPASS). “This is best accomplished in large controlled clinical trials involving thousands of individuals.”

Doctors focused on the need for transparency with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s review and approval process, calling for public hearings.

“Without such a public review I have no doubt that stories will appear about vaccine approvals made behind closed doors because the public didn’t want the public to see what or who may have influenced those decisions,” said Dr. Bruce Gellin with the Sabin Vaccine Institute.

Health experts said it’s critical to get as many people vaccinated as possible.

“Only population-wide immunity will stop the spread of COVID-19 and end the pandemic,” Gellin said.