COVID-19 vaccine: A hope and prayer?

QUICK READ: The government is agreeing to pay billions of dollars to the first company that developed a COVID-19 vaccine. We would like to think that any vaccine development will be within GMP and the drug approval process guidelines but when billions of dollars are at stake will the industry cut corners and who is going to be the watchdog?

U.S. health officials agreed to pay $1.95 billion for 100 million doses of a vaccine made by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE, the latest step in an effort to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The companies will receive payment upon the receipt of the doses, following regulatory authorization or approval, according to a statement. The government also can acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.

Almost two billion dollars is a hell of an incentive but it could also lead to bad data and cutting corners. The question that the media is asking is “will consumers trust a COVID-19 vaccine?”.

According to a poll conducted last year by Gallup, people do trust pharma companies to develop life-saving medications but the “trust” in anything to do with the government has declined significantly.

When a vaccine is finally approved, and one will be, there are going to be several challenges:

1ne: Convincing people the vaccine is safe and effective.

2wo: Warning people that a dosage of the vaccine does not mean things can go back to the way they were before the pandemic.

3hree: Administering the vaccine without lines around the block.

4our: Ensuring it’s affordable.

5ive: Fighting misinformation from antivaxxers.

The media is already trying to convince people that a “rushed” vaccine may not be safe while pharma is trying to convince people that any vaccine will go through rigorous testing.

What happens if more than one vaccine is approved? Then it’s going to be an information war. Whose is better at protecting us and which one has the least amount of side effects?

The development and approval of a vaccine is a chance for pharma companies to enhance their reputation but if the vaccine is priced too high you can bet that pharma is going to get a black-eye.

Money can be a bad incentive to cut corners or hide data at a time when both the FDA and CDC are politicized. We all want this horror show to end and nobody is ready to live with this virus for another year or two.