Health experts fear that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) may be rushing to approve a coronavirus vaccine due to political pressure from the Trump administration, The Hill reported. Any inoculation that's produced too early could undermine confidence in the process and lead to fewer Americans getting vaccinated.
The process of developing and deploying a vaccine normally takes years. However, with the COVID-19 pandemic currently claiming hundreds of thousands of lives and wrecking economies across the world, time is of the essence. Researchers in the U.S. and abroad are working feverishly to get a preventative against the novel coronavirus -- the pathogen that causes COVID-19 -- ready as soon as possible.
Mixed messages have been coming out of Washington about when such a preventative could be ready in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) sent a memo telling agencies to be prepared to deploy one by the end of October, but President Donald Trump has repeatedly spoken of a vaccine being ready sooner rather than later.
Meanwhile, large-scale clinical trials involving tens of thousands of test subjects are ongoing.
Similarly, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn has recently spoken of ending those early if the data shows that the vaccine being tested is safe and effective.
However, Trump's enthusiasm to get a vaccine completed quickly could undermine the entire process, warned Jeremy Konyndyk, senior fellow at the Center for Global Development.
"The rush to distribute before completing trials means that even if the vaccine is effective, we won't have proof, people will be reluctant to take it, and its perception will be tainted," he said.
It's a concern echoed by Rachel Levine, president of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.
"In these unprecedented times, the federal government must uphold a key principle of medical practice to 'do no harm,'" she said.
Last week, the Washington State Department of Health promised not to distribute a vaccine unless either all phases of testing have been completed satisfactorily or an independent board of scientists deems it safe.
At least two high-ranking federal officials have made it perfectly clear that no vaccine will be deployed, regardless of the early data coming out of the testing, until it's been reviewed by a board. As previously reported by The Inquisitr, both Surgeon General Jerome Adams and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci have stated that the power to approve a vaccine rests in the hands of the Data Safety Monitoring Board, an independent organization that is not tied to any political entity, and thus, makes its decisions apart from politics.
However, Dr. Fauci did note that the committee could deem a vaccine safe and effective before the clinical trials are concluded, a theoretical possibility that could result in the medicine being deployed to patients sooner than expected.