US pharmaceutical companies are under major pressure as President Donald Trump has stated several times that an effective vaccine will be ready by November when the presidential elections will also take place.
These claims, along with signs of interference from the administration into the rules and guidelines imposed by federal health and science agencies, worry some health experts. The release of a vaccine that was rushed and is unsafe can lead to severe consequences in the long run, including an extended pandemic.
Debates and battles between scientists and politicians are far from being new, but the COVID-19 pandemic has led to serious clashes in the US and across the world, as populist politicians downplayed the severity of the virus during the early days in an attempt to please people who were against social distancing rules.
Politicians have also taken advantage of their administrations to push drugs that aren’t safe. The FDA approved the use of hydroxychloroquine in March after President Trump argued that it could be an effective treatment. However, scientific studies have shown that it isn’t effective, and it can also cause severe side effects in some cases, forcing the FDA to withdraw the emergency use authorization.
The CDC published updated guidelines that mentioned that the coronavirus could spread via airborne transition, but the mentions were removed after a few days, and many health experts suspected that the retraction could be tied to government interference.
Recent statistics note that the number of Americans who are willing to get the vaccine continues to decline, reaching 51% in September, lower by 21% in comparison to May. Given the current context, the FDA will have to impose stricter criteria if COVID-19 vaccines will be the subject of emergency use authorizations.
Some sources already argue that revamped rules will prevent the release of any COVID-19 vaccine before Election Day, which is scheduled for November 3, 2020.