A vaccine for Covid-19 is a highly anticipated breakthrough for the Covid-19 pandemic. I am personally dreaming about the day I can get one. It can’t come soon enough. But many scientists worry that the rush to get a vaccine to market could be harmful to public support and adoption.
More than 400 vaccine experts signed a letter this week addressed to Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) urging caution regarding the White House’s “Warp Speed” Covid-19 vaccine race, writing that they want to “witness a transparent and rigorous FDA approval process that is devoid of political considerations.” Losing public trust in Covid-19 vaccines due to not taking all the necessary time to confirm a vaccine is safe and effective could be harmful to the cause.
The authors of the letter write:
“…an effective vaccine will only be truly useful if a large proportion of the public is willing to take it. Surveys have consistently shown that a significant fraction of Americans, from across the political spectrum, is reluctant to accept a Covid-19 vaccine. Some long-standing concerns about vaccine safety in general have no scientific foundation. However, more than 60% of U.S. voters prefer that a Covid-19 vaccine be thoroughly evaluated before it is made available, even if doing so delays its rollout. A particular concern applies to communities of color, where historical medical inequities are also likely to reduce vaccine uptake. Actively involving these and other communities that are at high risk of severe Covid-19 disease is essential to curtailing the pandemic. Similar considerations apply to vaccine distribution, which must not be determined by either an ability to pay or social influence.”