Coronavirus: Pharma companies unveil safety pledge over vaccine

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Vaccine developers said they “want to ensure public confidence”

A group of nine vaccine developers have announced a “historic pledge” to maintain scientific and ethical standards in the discovery of the coronavirus vaccine.

Firms, including Pfizer and Merck, said they would apply for regulatory approval only after the vaccine went through three stages of clinical studies.

This comes amid a global debate about the safety of vaccines made this year.

US President Donald Trump has said he wants one available in the US before the November election.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), no vaccine has yet completed clinical trials – some scientists fear the discovery of a vaccine, which is being politicized, and may damage public confidence. is.

In their pledge, nine biopharmaceutical firms did not mention Mr Trump but said they believed his action would “ensure public confidence” in the development of any vaccination.

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He pledged to make “the safety and well-being of always vaccinated persons our top priority”.

Other signatories were industry stalwarts Johnson & Johnson, Bayonet, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Modern and Novax.

“These nine companies have collectively developed over 70 novel vaccines that have helped eradicate some of the world’s most complex and deadly public health threats,” the statement said.

The WHO says that around 180 vaccine candidates are being tested worldwide.

The organization has stated that it does not expect a vaccine to meet its approval and safety guidelines this year, as it takes time to safely test them this year.

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President Donald Trump has said that a vaccine could be developed in the US before the November election

WHO spokesman Margaret Harris said last week that none of the candidates in advanced clinical trials have yet demonstrated “clear signs” of efficacy at a level of at least 50%.

“In terms of realistic deadlines, we’re not really expecting to see widespread vaccination until the middle of next year,” she said.

Similar sentiments have been shared by Thomas Cueney, director general of the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers. The industry body represents the companies that sign the pledge.

“I think it is quite unlikely that we will have a vaccine approved or specifically distributed on a large scale before the end of this year,” he told the BBC. “We may be surprised but clearly manufacturers don’t want more speed than quality”.

Despite this, China and Russia have begun vaccinating some key workers with domestically developed vaccines. All of them are still listed by the WHO as being in clinical trials.

Meanwhile, the US National Regulatory, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has suggested that coronavirus vaccines may be approved before completing Phase III clinical trials. This phase can often involve thousands of participants and last several years.

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Last week it also surfaced that the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged consideration of certain requirements to be ready to deliver a potential vaccine by October 1, two days before the November 3 presidential election.

President Trump has indicated that a vaccine may be available before the election. But his Democratic opponent Joe Biden has expressed doubts that Mr. Trump will listen to the scientists and implement a transparent process.

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