Should the FDA Fast-track COVID-19 Vaccine?

Divya Sharma, Life&Style Editor

It has been six months since the COVID-19 pandemic took root in the U.S. The United States has been at the forefront of the coronavirus crisis with a couple of thousand new cases every day. The number of cases worldwide has topped almost 27 million and isn’t slowing down. The demand for a vaccine is high, but it comes at a cost. The Food and Drug Administration is in talks of fast-tracking the vaccine before clinical trials have been administered. Pressure from the Trump administration isn’t the reason for it, says FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, “an emergency authorization could be appropriate before phase three clinical trials are completed if the benefits outweigh the risks.” There is a possibility that this proposed vaccine could be useful, but there is also a chance that it could make things exponentially worse. Without proper testing, this could lead to an even more detrimental outcome for the U.S.

Photo Credit: Erin Scott|Reuters

There have been over 6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the United States and over 180,000 deaths. The virus is believed to have spread from China back in January. It made its way to the U.S. near the beginning of the year. Since then, the entire country has been on tenterhooks since the pandemic, but things haven’t gotten any better. California, Texas, Florida, New York, and Georgia are the top five most infected states with new cases. China and Italy, which were at the center of the pandemic, are now among the small group of countries that have been able to get the virus under control. Wearing masks and maintaining social distance from people is highly encouraged, but many refuse to uphold these standards. Still, new cases come up every day worldwide, and the future is uncertain in terms of a potential vaccine or cure for the Coronavirus.

Whether people choose to take the vaccine or not is also up for debate. If the FDA moves forward with releasing a vaccine before clinical trials, that means that technically there is a prevention tool for contracting COVID-19. But, there won’t be a mandate that people will have to take it. Weighing in on the subject, Wheeler High School British Literature teacher Dr. Jimmy Carter stated, “If school returned to face-to-face sessions in November, I would take a fast-tracked vaccine.” Speaking with fellow student Lota Agbim, “I would not take a fast-tracked vaccine. Even if it was released and people were taking it, I would still wait to take it.”

There is still so much unknown about the Coronavirus. It is continuously evolving to include new symptoms and affect an even broader range of groups. Without definitive knowledge about the virus, how can the U.S efficiently eradicate this pandemic with a vaccine that hasn’t been thoroughly tested? Knowing so little about COVID-19 makes it that much more important to be sure of methods that can accurately reduce the number of people infected. There shouldn’t be any compromise in approving a vaccine, or the current health crisis could become much worse.