COVID-19 vaccine development approaches will impact US 2020 election

With the US having recorded over 8 million cases of COVID-19, many people consider a vaccine to be a potential panacea to the litany of issues that COVID-19 has presented to the US, and thus it is no surprise that vaccines have become a point of political discussion. The development of a vaccine could be viewed as beneficial to whichever politician or party helped move the intervention from development to the clinic, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Michael Breen, PhD, Director of Infectious Diseases and Ophthalmology at GlobalData, comments: “President Trump has given Operation Warp Speed, an initiative developed to help accelerate vaccine development with at least six companies participating, a remarkable combined total of over $6bn for the development and delivery of COVID-19 vaccines. Thus, there is little financial barrier for the development of a vaccine.”

Vaccine development is generally a time-consuming process, and experts in the field have expressed concerns that this effort is being rushed and that safety and efficacy of candidate vaccines might not be properly understood before rollout. These concerns have been raised following the Trump administration’s rush to promote therapies that are considered by experts to either be ineffective (chloroquine/hydroxychloroquine) or to have substantially misrepresented data that was seized upon by experts and later forced a walk back from the FDA (convalescent plasma).

Breen continues: “As both agents received Emergency Use Authorizations (EUAs) from the FDA despite only being supported by tenuous data at best, and hydroxychloroquine’s EUA was subsequently rescinded, fears over rushing to bring COVID-19 interventions to the public seem well founded.”

To help alleviate these fears, nine COVID-19 vaccine developers have pledged that any coronavirus vaccine they produce will be developed and tested with ‘high ethical standards and sound scientific principle’ and to ‘always make the safety and well-being of vaccinated individuals our top priority’.

Breen add: “While Trump’s approach is getting something to the market quickly, sometimes at odds with the scientific community, Biden seems to support a different approach, where scientists and experts will guide decisions on vaccine approval and implementation, not politicians.

“It does not appear that any vaccine will be available before the election, leaving the presidential candidates’ approaches to the outbreak as the most important factor for determining who best to deal with the outbreak going forward.”

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