Washington [US], September 10 (ANI/Sputnik): US National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins told Congress on Wednesday that it is impossible to say if the United States will have a COVID-19 vaccine by the November presidential election, although he is cautiously optimistic one will emerge by year-end.
“I could not possibly tell you right now because I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Collins said when asked if a vaccine will be available before the November 3 Election Day. “I do have cautious optimism that by the end of 2020 at least one of these vaccines will have emerged and turned out to be safe and effective.”
The quest for a workable COVID-19 vaccine has become a politically-charged issue in the United States, with President Donald Trump dropping broad hints that there will be one approved before he stands for reelection. The administration is working with six trial vaccines for the novel strain of the coronavirus and three have entered the key Phase 3 trial of public testing.
Trump’s Democratic rivals have accused the president of pressuring relevant agencies such as the Food & Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of cutting important corners to get a COVID-19 vaccine out quickly to boost his chances of getting reelected.
The administration’s response to the pandemic has become a hot-button issue of the election campaign. The COVID-19 has infected more than six million Americans and killed over 190,000 of them.
Collins is the second top US scientist to say in as many days that there was more certainty that a working COVID-19 vaccine will be made available by the end of the year rather than November, after a similar timeline given on Tuesday by Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“I have to be confident in [the way in] which this decision is made. Otherwise, I’ll have no part of it,” Collins told the Senate committee.
US Surgeon General Jerome M. Adams, a Trump appointee, insisted at the same hearing that there was “no politicization of the vaccine process, whatsoever”.
Collins initially told the committee that an independent Data Safety and Monitoring Board will evaluate the six vaccine candidates for the COVID-19 before the FDA reviewed them. But he added later that the board’s operating standards itself were set by the FDA. (ANI/Sputnik)
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