Experts say congressional policy cannot easily undermine security
Despite legitimate public concerns about political rhetoric, politics does not influence the development of a COVID-19 vaccine, several public health experts in Congress said Wednesday.
Government and independent researchers are keeping a close watch on vaccine development, said Dr Mark McClellan, director of the Duke-Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University and former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
“It’s not an easy process to disrupt just because someone says something about it,” he said. “It undermines confidence, however.”
President Donald Trump said frequently, a coronavirus vaccine could be available “soon”, “in a few weeks” and before election day. This has raised fears that the White House will pressure the FDA to clear a vaccine before it has undergone the full regulatory oversight process, as has happened with at least two COVID-19 treatments. .
Public health and medical experts testifying before the House committee on energy and trade on Wednesday said they didn’t think it would be possible, although they didn’t entirely ignore it.
If a COVID-19 vaccine were to be released before it has been fully and properly vetted, the public will know because scientists and researchers will tell them, said Dr Paul A. Offit, director of Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. .
“You will also hear from people like Drs. Francis Collins and Tony Fauci, trusted by the American public, along with many other academics and researchers who couldn’t stand it, ”said Offit, who also sits on an independent vaccine review board that advises the FDA.
McClellan noted that on Tuesday, seven former FDA commissioners published an opinion piece in the Washington Post, saying that although the Trump administration has undermined the credibility of the FDA, it has continued to trust the integrity and high-quality scientific work of the agency’s staff.
A vaccine could be approved within the next month, even under an emergency use authorization, only if there was a “home run” as far as science was concerned, with everything in the studies and the process going perfectly. Even then, there will have been strict FDA oversight, McClellan said.
The fact that politicians talk about deadlines only muddies the waters and creates confusion that is not helpful, said Dr Ashish Jha, dean of the School of Public Health at Brown University.
If career scientists from the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are allowed to do their jobs and speak freely to the public, the process will be sound., he said.
“What I have asked is for the politicians to shut up, to stop talking, to stop talking about dates and for the scientific process to move forward,” he said. “It would be extremely helpful and go a long way in providing reassurance to the American people that this is a process with integrity.”