We all want a coronavirus vaccine. But no matter how urgently action is needed, it is imperative that the highest standards of quality, safety and efficacy are upheld.
We must prioritise thorough validation of the results of pre-clinical and clinical trials by independent expert bodies. There is no place for political favour or national one-upmanship. Only the most rigorous application of science and openness in the regulatory process can ensure that everyone, starting with healthcare workers, has confidence in Covid-19 vaccines once they have been properly approved.
Of course, everybody is keen to develop a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine as fast as possible, and manufacturers are moving at unprecedented speed. But we also have to move as slowly as needed to make sure no corners are cut. People should not get a Covid-19 vaccine until national regulatory agencies have approved them, on the basis of solid validation of the vaccines’ quality, safety and effectiveness.
Nothing is more important to the companies I represent than the health and safety of those receiving a vaccine. That hasn’t changed in this pandemic.
However much it costs — and it might hurt financially to slow down the testing and production of a new vaccine — manufacturers have an ethical duty towards patients and society. They must fully commit to transparency about clinical trials whether the results are good or bad. Regulators need to be allowed to do their work as fast as science and good practice allow and at the appropriate pace needed to ensure delivery of safe and effective vaccines.
People will only trust new vaccines if they believe that they have been approved by independent regulators based on pure science. Undermining that trust would further fuel the anti-vaccine movements, which are already disrupting immunisation programmes, and endanger all of us.
Full opinion: Vaccine speed must not trump safety