UAB’s director of infectious diseases Thursday questioned the safety of a COVID vaccine that might be released in October or early November.
Dr. Jeanne Marazzo said she would want to assess the data used in development of the vaccine. She joins other scientists from across the country who have questioned whether the vaccine would be safe and effective after it had undergone such speedy clinical trials.
Wednesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a letter to all 50 states told governors to prepare for distribution of the vaccine.
Marazzo also questioned whether the proposed vaccine would stave off reinfections of COVID-19.
“Problems that come with vaccines can be rare events, but they can be devastating,” she said.
“Now we are hearing that the European data is enough,” she said, adding that there is no evidence that the vaccine will reduce the number of cases of COVID.
“Maybe we don’t need to prove that a vaccine actually reduces the number of infections, and maybe we can just say it induces protective antibodies,” she said with sarcasm.
She cited the swine flu outbreak at Fort Dix, New Jersey, as an example of a rushed vaccine. Soldiers became sick, and there was concern that the swine flu could be a virus similar to the one that caused the 1918 flu epidemic, she said. Because of the threat, then-President Gerald Ford gave the green light to widely administer a vaccine that had not been studied.
“Forty-five million people got that vaccine, a couple died and 450 got Guillain-Barre Syndrome. Many people thought that the idea was ill-conceived, and that it was rushed.
“The big concern about this timeline now is that we do not have evidence for efficacy yet. Do we have confidence that we can vaccinate people safely without knowing the long-term and side effects?” Marazzo asked.
“I think this is a very concerning trend,” she added.
Lay Low on Labor Day
Marazzo also urged people to continue social distancing and mask-wearing during the Labor Day holiday.
“In July and August, we barely escaped a crisis with ICU and hospital capacity after the surge in COVID cases.”
Now the number of COVID patients is declining. “Let’s don’t let all that work be for naught,” she said.