• Vivian De Waart

Why Rushing the Coronavirus Vaccine is Risky

Updated: Oct 16, 2020

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has asked public health officials to be prepared to start the distribution of a COVID-19 vaccine as soon as late October or early November of this year, reports the New York Times.

Several clinical trials have been done, and a vaccine has been co-developed by researchers at NIH's National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the biotech company Moderna, Inc. However, the lack of data to support whether or not this vaccine is safe pushes experts to believe the vaccine is not ready to be distributed to people.

Vaccine development consists of several levels of clinical trials. Vaccines must first pass pre-clinical trials through 3 phases. This is where the vaccine is tested on animals such as mice and monkeys. Next, the vaccine must go through 2 phases of clinical trials where people are injected with the real or placebo vaccine.

In addition to these processes, which can take multiple years to approve, vaccines must be thoroughly examined for years after to study the possible long term effects of the vaccine.

Some health experts are worried that the Trump administration may be pushing vaccine development to be made available by Election Day to give him credit for handling the pandemic.

Thomas A. LaVeist, Ph.D., dean of the School of Public Health at Tulane University, is one of many experts who are concerned that the administration might cut corners to fast-track a COVID-19 vaccine.

“Vaccine development requires painstaking work. Typically, a vaccine will take more than a decade to be developed and deployed,” LaVeist said. “So putting an artificial deadline on the production of a vaccine is extremely dangerous”.

Americans are impatient with the lengthy process of waiting for a vaccine to be developed. This enhances the need for a vaccine to get the virus under control and life to get back to “normal”.

“I’m just getting a little annoyed with how long this quarantine is, and I know that a vaccine is the only thing that will help us,” said Kiana Brady, a high school senior at Da Vinci Communications in El Segundo who anticipates the school to open back up.

Other viruses, such as the family group Bunyavirus, Paramyxo, and Flavivirus, have multiple years of vaccine research. There are multiple viruses within these families, and in specifically the Bunyavirus, no successful vaccines have been FDA approved.

One example is the Hantavirus has been developing vaccines for about 20 years. The first pre-clinical vaccine was made in 2002 and was not FDA approved.

It has been shown that viruses must go through pre-clinical and clinical trials before they can be approved. Many vaccines have been developed over the course of more than 10 years. The danger of speeding the clinical trials is that you will not have a clear answer on what the long term effects are.

Although the public is anticipating a vaccine to be developed as soon as possible to combat the coronavirus, it is important to keep in mind the risks involved with a rushed vaccine.