Dr. Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told a Senate committee that any approvals of a COVID-19 vaccine will be based purely on science; otherwise, he “will have no part of it.”
During his testimony on Wednesday, Dr. Collins said, “I cannot say strongly enough that the decisions about how this vaccine is going to be evaluated and assessed is going to be based on science and I know I speak for my colleagues in the government and, certainly for the scientific community broadly, that that can be the only basis upon which this decision is made. Otherwise, the public would not be expected to trust us.
He was testifying alongside Vice Admiral Dr. Jerome Adams, the U.S. Surgeon General, on the integrity of the developmental process of a coronavirus vaccine before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
Trump administration has been pushing for accelerated approval of the vaccine development in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
In recent weeks, President Donald Trump announced that a COVID-19 vaccine might be approved before the election, potentially by ending testing through the FDA’s Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). However, many experts warned that this could erode public confidence in the process.
Earlier this week, nine top biopharma companies vowed against seeking approvals or EUAs for their experimental vaccines without conclusive positive data.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, a former Democratic presidential candidate, called for assurances from the nation’s top medical experts that decisions made on the vaccine release will be based solely on science, without taking the presidential election into consideration.
Dr. Collins was asked, “Will it be done by a certain date?” He replied, “I could not possibly tell you right now because I don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming months.”
“I do have cautious optimism that, by the end of 2020, at least one of these vaccines will have emerged and turned out to be safe and effective,” the NIH director added. “But even that is a guess. And certainly to try to guess if it happens by a particular week before or after a particular day or week in early November is well beyond anything that any scientists could tell you and be confident that they know what they are saying.”
“Yes, science and science alone, will be the way in which this decision is made otherwise I will have no part of it.”
Dr. Adams echoed Dr. Colllins’ statement about driving the COVID-19 vaccine process only on the basis of science.
“I want the American people to hear me say this: There will be no shortcuts. This vaccine will be safe and effective or it won’t get moved along,’” the U.S. Surgeon General said. “When a vaccine is either approved or authorized by the [Food and Drug Administration], I and my family will be in line to get it.” The article originally appeared on Fierce Healthcare.