Dr. Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), assured the public that safety would continue to be a top priority as the agency seeks to get a viable coronavirus vaccine cleared in the coming months.
The FDA chief acknowledged that the agency is working at great speed to get a safe and effective vaccine out to Americans, but some medical experts have questioned whether any shortcuts will be taken to quickly green-light a vaccine.
“Let me assure you that we will not cut corners,” Hahn said during a video briefing with the American Medical Association.
“All of our decisions will continue to be based on good science and the same careful deliberative processes we have always used when reviewing medical products.”
Hahn admitted that he is aware of surveys that indicate that many Americans would not roll up their sleeves for a coronavirus vaccine—even if it is approved by the FDA.
A recent Gallup poll revealed that 35% of Americans would refuse a free coronavirus vaccine even if it had been deemed safe.
In late May, a poll from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research showed that 49% of Americans said they would get vaccinated, 20% said they wouldn’t and 31% said they weren’t sure.
According to a Yahoo News/YouGov poll, conducted between July 28 and 30, 42% of Americans are planning to get vaccinated for the coronavirus. This figure is down from May, when 55% said they would get vaccinated.
Hahn asked doctors to do their part in the ongoing fight against the coronavirus.
“We hope that you will urge your patients to take an approved vaccine, so that we can seek to establish widespread immunity,” Hahn said. “We can emerge from this emergency only by working together.”
The FDA confirmed in late July that a vaccine that’s at least 50% effective could be given the clear by December or early next year.
“Obviously, we would like to see it much, much higher,” he said during a conference call alongside National Institutes of Health Director Dr. Francis Collins.
On Tuesday, Russia approved the world’s first coronavirus vaccine, but the claim has drawn skepticism from scientists and public health officials.
America has nearly 5.2 million confirmed infections and more than 164,000 deaths.
Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.