Opinion | Covid Update: Don’t Rush the Vaccine

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You can’t rush a vaccine. Hi guys. I’m Jeneen Interlandi. I am back in New York City. And I’m here to give you an update on the coronavirus pandemic. So here’s where we’re at this week, we are getting close to the 5 million mark on national case count, and we have almost 160,000 coronavirus deaths. The daily average of new cases is actually down from just two weeks ago. But the daily death toll is still quite high. And we have to keep in mind that the virus is still spreading uncontrolled through too many parts of the country. But there’s still some cause for hope. “We hope that as the time we get into the late fall and early winter, we will have, in fact, a vaccine that we can say would be safe and effective.” A couple months ago, I was actually not that optimistic about the prospects for a coronavirus vaccine this year. But now I’m actually inclined to agree with Dr. Fauci. No. 1, there’s so many candidates moving through the pipeline. No. 2, several of those candidates are already in late-stage clinical trials. And No. 3, there’s already production facilities being planned for and built so that if one of these vaccines does prove safe and effective, we’ll be able to manufacture it very quickly. This is really actually quite extraordinary, right? If we get a vaccine within the next several months. It’s going to be one of the fastest vaccine development projects like in human history if not the fastest. It normally takes a long, long time to develop a vaccine. We test it in a small batch of humans, then a larger group of humans and then an even larger group of humans. So some people have begun to suggest that we should potentially perhaps skip these Phase 3 trials and just make the vaccine available to anybody who wants it right now, you know, while the Phase 3 trials are being done in the background. That’s a terrible idea. We cannot skip Phase 3 trials. Phase 3 is especially important for detecting, like, rare side effects. Right? So if it’s very rare, it’s only going to show up in a small portion of the population. That means you have to test a lot of people to detect it. And then the other problem is vaccine hesitancy, which is if you start skipping steps now, when you do have something that works and you try to get people to take it, you’re increasing the likelihood that people are not going to trust it later on. And that’s a problem. While I do feel optimistic about a vaccine, and that’s certainly a bright spot, everything else is still pretty grim. A thousand people or so are dying every single day in this country. We’re still not doing all of the things that we can and should be doing to stop that from happening, to stop the virus from spreading and to get it under control. Sorry to end on a depressing note, guys. But that’s where things are. In the meantime, mask up, stay safe.

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