Health experts call for more transparency in COVID-19 vaccine process to gain public confidence

BOSTON — Health experts told lawmakers the federal government needs to do a better job of convincing the public that a COVID-19 vaccine will be safe and effective during a House Subcommittee hearing Wednesday.

“We need a lot more transparency in the process,” said Dr. Ashish Jha, Dean at the School of Public Health at Brown University.

Nearly half of Americans say they would not get a COVID-19 vaccine if one were available today, according to a memo from the House Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

“The future success of a COVID-19 vaccine depends on the American public’s confidence,” said Rep. Diana DeGette (D-Colorado).

Polls show trust in the COVID-19 vaccine development has been dropping in the last few months.

“The American public is skittish,” said Dr. Paul Offit, Director of the Vaccine Education Center at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Offit pointed to the messaging as a concern.

“Phrases like warp speed, the race for a vaccine and vaccine finalists have caused some to wonder whether critical phases of vaccine development are being skipped or worse that safety guidelines are being ignored,” Offit said.

The medial experts testifying before the House panel said scientists are keeping the same standards for safety and effectiveness as they have with all vaccines.

There have been changes made to the method itself with steps now happening at the same time instead of one after another.

“The FDA has multiple existing safeguards to ensure science-based decisions,” said Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon).

The medical industry said it’s critical to meet the public’s expectations when it comes to a timeline for distribution.

“Lessons learned from H1N1 reinforce that we need to under promise and over deliver,” said Dr. Ali Khan, Dean of the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.

Health experts said we need between 70% and 90% of the population to be vaccinated in order to achieve herd immunity.

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