(WAFB) - News broke Wednesday, Sept. 2 suggesting officials in the Trump Administration advised states to prepare to distribute a coronavirus vaccine by November 1. Public health experts cried foul in response to those reports.
Critics suggested the federal government was cutting corners in a rush to get a handle on the disease which has claimed thousands of lives globally.
In an interview with WAFB’s Matt Williams Friday, Sept. 4, White House coronavirus response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx weighed in.
“Well in order to be truly convinced that we can get control permanently over this virus we need a vaccine,” said Birx. “I know that everybody thinks that we’re rushing for a vaccine, and we are because we want to stop infections and we want to stop this ongoing mortality. There is one reason to have a vaccine and that’s so we can prevent ongoing infections and the mortality that comes from that.”
In a televised interview, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci echoed statement’s on the importance of having a vaccine sooner rather than later, adding that the accelerated timeline was conceivable, but not likely.
“These are all guesstimates,” said Fauci.
The rush, some critics speculate, coincides with administration officials putting on airs as a political tactic ahead of November elections.
An Associated Press report says Robert Redfield, director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, informed state leaders in a document that “waivers” which allow a vaccine to be pushed through clinical trials sooner than normal “will not compromise the safety or effectiveness of the vaccine.”
“It also states that initially available vaccines will either be approved by the Food and Drug Administration or authorized by the agency under its emergency powers,” the report says.
Faucci, speaking in an interview with Reuters ahead of that news, said, “One of the potential dangers if you prematurely let a vaccine out is that it would make it difficult, if not impossible, for the other vaccines to enroll people in their trial.”
When questioned why President Trump and administration officials separated themselves from global vaccine efforts organized by the World Health Organization, Birx touted the nation’s reported impact in the global health landscape abroad, saying the potential for breakthroughs in the US transcends the organization’s efforts.
She went further to credit the US with much of the progress seen internationally.
“I want to make it clear to the American people how much America has led in the health of the world. That is more than a single organization,” said Birx. “Right now, all of these sites in Africa that are capable of doing these COVID test, it’s because of the investment the American people have made over the last two decades into Subsaharan Africa and around the world. It is those platforms that were there because of our prior investment that are being used right now to combat this particular pandemic in these countries.”
Click here to report a typo.