Medical experts widely agree that a coronavirus vaccine will be the greatest leap towards finally bringing the pandemic to an end. Unfortunately, weeks of confusing information on who has developed a vaccine, how it will be tested, and how quickly it should be distributed have created a dip in public confidence in the process—with many claiming they will hold off on getting inoculated. A Sept. 17 poll from the Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of Americans believe a vaccine would be approved before its safety and effectiveness could be proven and 78 percent believe the process is moving too quickly. As a result, the survey found that only 21 percent of American adults definitely plan to get the vaccine, a considerable drop from May when 42 percent said they would take the opportunity to get vaccinated. That dip is so drastic, in fact, Anthony Fauci, MD, recently said he finds it “disturbing.” Read on for more, and for another update from the nation’s top infectious disease expert, see What Dr. Fauci Confirmed Kills Coronavirus.
During an interview at the Texas Tribune Festival on Sept. 29, Fauci blamed the “mixed messages that have come out of Washington” for citizens’ recent loss of faith in the vaccine, according to The Texas Tribune. Fauci added that messaging had to be considered and that the government had to “regain the confidence … that this is being done to protect them as individuals and to protect our society.”
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director also took it upon himself to reaffirm his confidence in the scientific process taking place. “I feel cautiously optimistic, as a scientist, that we will have a safe and effective vaccine,” he said. “I believe it will happen, and it will happen likely by this end of the calendar year.”
Fauci added that five companies have COVID vaccines that are currently in advanced clinical trials, meaning they’re approaching the final step before seeking FDA approval. Two, however, Moderna and Pfizer, are leading the pack.
Fauci has previously explained that the data from each trial is only shared with an independent board of scientists, statisticians, and clinicians. The members of that board are the ones who decide whether or not a potential vaccine should advance to the next stage of the process with the FDA.
This is not the first time Fauci has expressed concern with the public’s confidence—or lack thereof—in a coronavirus vaccine. In an interview with Vox reporter Sean Rameswaram | on Sept. 25, he tried to put recent public fears about a rushed research process at ease.
“Everybody is worrying that someone is going to make an end run around that and try to get a vaccine out for political reasons,” he said. “Well, that will not happen, but if it does… it will be really transparent. Because the scientists will see the data. The FDA has pledged publicly multiple times that they will not approve a vaccine unless they’ve established that nonpolitical scientists agree that it’s safe and effective.” And for more on where the pandemic is surging right now, check out The 7 States That Are Now Seeing the Worst COVID Spikes in the U.S.