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Big Pharma join forces in symbolic vaccine safety pledge


BY: Dima Kiwan



Unsurprisingly, not many people trust the coronavirus vaccines they hear about so often on the news. As the global race continues to test and distribute this highly anticipated therapeutic, the public is growing increasingly worried about how the impact of their government’s rushed timeline could impact the safety of vaccines. This is particularly evident in the United States, where Trump has continuously boasted about the country’s rapid vaccine development, even suggesting that one might be distributed before the presidential election on November 3rd.

The Trump administration has certainly given Americans reasons to be skeptical as they seem to be prioritizing the release of the vaccine before the election over adequate safety and ethics standards. In fact, a CBS news poll showed that 68% of registered voters would consider a vaccine released this year to be rushed as opposed to a scientific achievement. Democratic Vice Presidential nominee Kamala Harris reiterated this sentiment when asked whether she would trust a vaccine from the Trump administration, claiming that “it would have to be from a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and reliability of whatever he’s talking about. I will not take his word for it, he wants us to inject bleach, no, I will not take his word.”

Amid this hesitancy and uncertainty, nine CEOs of the largest drug companies working towards a coronavirus vaccine pledged on Tuesday to “only submit for approval or emergency use authorization after demonstrating safety and efficacy through a Phase 3 clinical study that is designed and conducted to meet requirements of expert regulatory authorities.”  These companies, which include Astrazeneca, Merck, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, BioNTech, Pfizer, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline, also vowed in their pledge to “always make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals [their] top priority.”

While such a statement might be routine procedure under normal circumstances, the current political climate adds dramatically to its significance. For one, these companies are trying to restore public confidence by distancing vaccine matters away from the Trump administration, implying that they will stand with science rather than submit to political pressure. This is particularly effective because of Trump’s track record with emergency authorizations of unreliable treatments, notably hydroxychloroquine a few months back.

It is equally important to note that these companies are fierce competitors in a massive market, especially during this pandemic. There is a reason society often antagonizes Big Pharma – most of these companies have faced serious fraud claims or ethical breaches in the past. This move is unprecedented – only in Trump’s America would rival drug companies form a united front to stand for the safety and interests of everyday people.


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