Science becomes a political football

QUICK READ: The FDA and some drug companies are moving quickly to get approvals for the treatment of the Coronavirus. However, they could be moving too quickly. Science requires data and getting good data takes time. There are no quick miracles here and politics should not be part of the equation.

The Food and Drug Administration on Sunday issued an emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, decades-old malaria drugs championed by President Donald Trump for coronavirus treatment despite scant evidence. If you believe that politics and threats weren’t involved I have a bridge to sell you.

In addition, two US healthcare companies have brought new hope in the fight against coronavirus, with Johnson & Johnson announcing a potential vaccine that could be available early next year and Abbott Laboratories launching a rapid test kit. Will the vaccine be safe? What are the risks to patients? That might be obscured in the push to get this pandemic shelved.

While J&J has landed on a vaccine candidate far more quickly than usual, it is still behind Boston-based biotech Moderna. Moderna’s candidate was ready more than a month ago and entered human testing in March, six months earlier than J&J planned for its potential vaccine. Frankly, as much as I want a vaccine this scares the crap out of me.

In this era where more people on the right mistrust science it seems risky to allow any company to take shortcuts to develop treatments or vaccines. The data from these “trials” needs to be reviewed by third parties though thought leaders and medical journals. If we approve these products too fast and it results in a myriad of side effects the only ones who are going to win are the lawyers.

This pandemic is bringing our country to its knees. I understand that we all want it to be over but please take politics out of the drug approval process and let science do what they do best with scientists, not politicians.