Source: The Hill
The director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said despite the images conjured up by Operation Warp Speed — the Trump administration’s effort to get a COVID-19 vaccine to market as quickly as possible — the federal government is taking all the necessary safety precautions.
In a wide-ranging interview Wednesday, NIH chief Francis Collins said he’s optimistic about the potential for one or more vaccine candidates to make it through phase three trials by the end of the year, and that the Trump administration is making the ancillary plans to deliver that vaccine widely.
He vowed that the government’s top scientists would not be rushed in approving a vaccine before a candidate demonstrates both that it provides a strong immune response and that it does not come with damaging side effects.
“I think in the United States we are on a very solid track, but of course there are many scientific uncertainties that we will need to watch closely,” Collins said.
“I think there is reason to be cautiously optimistic that by the end of 2020 we will have at least one and maybe more than one vaccine that has been judged by rigorous standards to be safe and effective,” he added.
Collins is among the public health experts who does not love the image conveyed by the White House’s Operation Warp Speed.
He said that while the administration was moving swiftly to lay the groundwork for delivering multiple vaccine candidates, scientists would not skip health and safety steps in pursuit of a solution.
“I know there is some concern because of this warp speed label that maybe there are corners being cut that shouldn’t be. I want to reassure you and everybody else that we will not allow that to happen,” he said.
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In this day and age, understanding bacteria and viruses and developing vaccines are national security issues. In my view sizable part of every country’s defense budget should be spent in these pursuits rather than making tanks and other weapons.
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