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Prominent Vaccinologists Caution Against Accelerating COVID-19 Vaccine to Market Amid Pandemic, Public Health Resolution Needed to Raise Awareness
(Sacramento, CA, March 26, 2020) – Two prominent vaccinologists, Dr. Peter Hotez and Dr. Paul Offit, have separately come out against rushing a COVID-19 vaccine to market. They have joined a growing number of professionals in the field of vaccine development and implementation to express concern and alarm about fast-tracking a COVID-19 vaccine without adequate safety testing.
“I understand the importance of accelerating timelines for vaccines in general, but from everything I know, this is not the vaccine to be doing it with,” said Dr. Peter Hotez, Dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine and developer of a SARS vaccine. Hotez urged researchers to “carry out the process very cautiously,” saying that in his own studies, he “found that some vaccinated animals developed more severe disease compared with unvaccinated animals when they were exposed to the virus” due to “immune enhancement”. 1, 2, 3
“If you’re going to be testing this in otherwise healthy people who are very, very unlikely to die from this infection, you better make sure it’s safe,” said Dr. Paul Offit, director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, when speaking about COVID-19 vaccine development. 4
At the recent World Health Organization’s Global Vaccine Safety Summit in Geneva, Switzerland, experts expressed concerns over the need for better vaccine safety science in general. “There’s a lot of safety science that’s needed, and without the good science we can’t have good communication. So, although I’m talking about all these other contextual issues and communication issues, it absolutely needs the science as the backbone. You can’t repurpose the same old science to make it sound better if you don’t have the science that’s relevant to the new problem. So, we need much more investment in safety science,” said Dr. Heidi Larson, MA PhD Anthropologist, Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project. 5
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, Chief Scientist at the World Health Organization, expressed concern about vaccine safety monitoring at that same summit. She stated,“We can not overemphasize the fact that we don’t have any good safety monitoring systems in many countries and this adds to the miscommunication and the misapprehensions because we are not able to give clear cut answers when people ask questions about the deaths that have occurred due to particular vaccine and this always gets blown up in the media. One should be able to give a very factual account of what has happened and what the cause of deaths are, but in most cases there is some obfuscation at that level and therefore there is less and less trust then in the system.”5
In an effort to address these types of concerns, California Health Coalition Advocacy, a California-based non-profit organization, has written an 18-point public health resolution and is asking for a lawmaker to present it to the state legislature. California Health Coalition Advocacy’s resolution expresses the need for the laws of the State of California to reflect the foundational importance of the physician-patient relationship, the importance of informed consent, acknowledgment of ongoing advances in medicine, the breadth of approaches to medical care, and the use of precautionary principles when discerning the role of government as it may impact the health of individuals. The resolution would raise awareness about vaccine safety, potential adverse injuries, and monitoring systems.
"It is of utmost importance that lawmakers recognize that inherent dangers exist in vaccine development and administration, and make sure to protect their constituents from these dangers. California leadership has taken careful steps to mitigate COVID-19. They should heed the warnings of these prominent voices in the field of vaccinology and use extreme caution when considering legislation and executive orders as they relate to vaccinations," said Dr. Kathleen Miller, co-founder and board member of California Health Coalition Advocacy, headquartered in Sacramento.
If you would like more information about this and California Health Coalition Advocacy’s Resolution, please email Valerie Noble, firstname.lastname@example.org.
1 Majumder, Bhaswati Guha. “Who Is Peter Hotez? Doctor Reveals Coronavirus Vaccine Was Ready Years Ago but Trial Never Happened.” International Business Times, Singapore Edition, 7 Mar. 2020, www.ibtimes.sg/who-peter-hotez-doctor-reveals-coronavirus-vaccine-was-ready-years-ago-trial-never-happened-40530.
2 Steenhuysen, Julie. “As Pressure for Coronavirus Vaccine Mounts, Scientists Debate Risks of Accelerated Testing.” Reuters, Thomson Reuters, 11 Mar. 2020, www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-vaccines-insight-idUSKBN20Y1GZ.
3 Tseng, Chien-Te, et al. “Immunization with SARS Coronavirus Vaccines Leads to Pulmonary Immunopathology on Challenge with the SARS Virus.” PloS One, Public Library of Science, 2012, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3335060/?fbclid=IwAR0nk4UmzQKjNahanFn9amNropz38gbEYosriUxj6EqmLsz8pwiRvJkJrPk.
4 Gutman, Abraham. “Philly Vaccine Pioneer: We Can't Rush a Coronavirus Vaccine: Q&A.” Https://Www.inquirer.com, Staff, 6 Mar. 2020, www.inquirer.com/health/coronavirus/coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine-trump-paul-offit-20200306.html.
5 “Global Vaccine Safety Summit.” World Health Organization, World Health Organization, www.who.int/news-room/events/detail/2019/12/02/default-calendar/global-vaccine-safety-summit.