I have long expressed concerns regarding the safety, efficacy, manufacturing quality, distribution, and administration of anti-Covid-19 vaccines. Many of these concerns have now been echoed by reporters at STAT, a publication that has become essential reading for all who follow diagnostic, vaccine, and drug development for Covid-19.
The article highlights the loss of public trust in our public health institutions, with 62% of Americans worried the FDA will rush to approve vaccines because of political pressure, without adequate regard for safety and effectiveness. But in addition to highlighting the problem, the authors also point toward a solution: a Pew Research Center study which shows that open access to data and independent review inspires more trust in research findings—findings that in the case of a vaccine study need to be trusted for people to be willing to take the vaccine.
While calling for broader access to information about the design, implementation, and results from the vaccine trials, the authors note that “vaccine manufacturers’ current legal obligations and voluntary commitments often fall short of full transparency.”
I have enormous respect for their original reporting and unbiased, unvarnished journalism. This story of the need for increased transparency regarding vaccine development is case in point. The article is a must-read overview of some of what the public needs to know regarding vaccine development, what and information has been withheld. Proclamations by the companies that are developing vaccines ethically are an inadequate assurance. If read carefully, these assurances are as full of holes as Swiss cheese.
It is only by shining the light on what is missing and by fully disclosing the data and problems encountered that we may achieve clarity and confidence that vaccines, if approved, are safe and gain a true measure of their potential effectiveness.