Coronavirus (COVID-19) Vaccine Tracker: It is now looking extremely likely that the United States would indeed have a novel coronavirus vaccine by November, if not earlier. According to a report in The New York Times, the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has told public health officials all over the country to be prepared for a vaccination programme for targeted groups “as soon as late October or early November”.
None of the vaccines being developed are likely to be ready by that time. The most advanced ones are in phase-3 clinical trials, which are expected to continue till the end of this year. Vaccine developers, scientists and experts have been maintaining that the earliest a vaccine can be made available is next year. Read in Malayalam
However, US President Donald Trump has assured Americans that a vaccine would be available in the country by the year-end.
He has also not ruled out the possibility of the vaccine appearing even before the November 3 Presidential election, in which he is running to get elected for the second time. The availability of coronavirus vaccine is seen as boosting his chances of re-election.
While concerns are being raised, including by the World Health Organisation, about premature introduction of a vaccine, it seems all the relevant institutions in the United States are falling in line, and preparing the ground for approving a vaccine candidate for emergency use, even before the phase-3 trials are completed.
The Food and Drug Administration, country’s drug regulator who Trump, just a few days ago, accused of deliberately delaying the approval process for a coronavirus vaccine, has said it was open to granting emergency use authorisation to a vaccine, even before the clinical trials were over, if the initial data was favourable. Dr Stephen Hahn, FDA commissioner, has said in multiple interviews that it was up to the vaccine developers to make an application for an early approval. And if they did, the FDA would not reject it just on the grounds that phase-3 trials were still continuing and not yet over. Hahn, however, has been emphasising that the decision to grant emergency approval would be based on science and data, and not on political considerations.
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Dr Anthony Fauci, America’s most famous expert on coronavirus who has repeatedly said he expected a vaccine to be ready only by early next year, also seems to be getting around the view that an early introduction of vaccine was possible, and in the interests of the people.
In several interviews in the last couple of days, Fauci has been saying that if early data from phase-3 trials were promising enough, the vaccine can be cleared for emergency use on high-risk groups like health workers.
The directive from the CDC to health workers to remain prepared is the latest in the string of efforts being made to prepare the ground for an early introduction of coronavirus vaccine in America, possibly even before the November 3 elections.
(As on August 28; source: WHO Coronavirus vaccine landscape of August 28, 2020)