There is no doubt that the currently available COVID vaccines were developed relatively quickly. However, some experts said this week that speediness does not equal sloppiness, and all necessary steps were taken in the process, according to Medscape.
Dr. Matthew Zahn said, “The speed with which safe and effective vaccines have been developed is really a tribute to medical science in this country. At the same time, that speed understandably raises concerns about the process of developing and assessing these vaccines.”
Dr. Zahn is a pediatric infectious disease expert at CHOC Children’s Hospital, Orange County, CA.
“Although a lot of people will say this was rushed and that we didn’t do everything we would ordinarily do, actually, everything was done,” said Dr. Dial Hewlett Jr, Medical Director of the Division of Disease Control, Westchester County Department of Health, White Plains, New York.
“I am very confident in the safety and efficacy of these vaccines,” Dr. Zahn said.
Dr. Hewlett explained, “The vaccine development process was compressed into a shorter time period because there was a heightened focus during the pandemic and a lot of additional resources. The result was the development of two vaccines rather rapidly, which have been shown to be safe and effective — the mRNA vaccines.”
“And there are other vaccines and other platforms we believe will also be safe and effective,” he added.
Dr. Zahn said, “The point cannot be emphasized enough: There was increased velocity of development bringing these vaccines to evaluation by the FDA and ACIP, but this did not involve skipping steps,”
He explained that concerns over the rushed approval of mRNA vaccines contribute to vaccine hesitancy among most people, which is a real public health and individual risk.
“We always worry about vaccine hesitancy from a public health standpoint,” Dr. Zahn explained. “People’s fears during the pandemic that these vaccines are not safe or do not work will result in unnecessary disease and unnecessary death.”
Dr. Hewlett added, “We as scientists and physicians feel these vaccines are quite safe and effective. And we’re encouraging people to utilize these vaccines…once they are eligible.”
Dr. Zahn was asked what experts have learned about vaccines over the past year. To which, he replied, “One of the takeaways from the public health side is the safety and effectiveness of mRNA vaccines.”
Dr. Hewlett added, “The thing we can learn from this experience is that the science was done extremely well, very effectively, and very thoroughly.” The article was originally published Friday on Medscape by Damian McNamara, a Miami-based staff journalist who covers a wide range of medical topics, including infectious diseases, gastroenterology, and critical care.