Monday, 30 Nov 2020

Coronavirus vaccine: Task force chief dismisses ‘safety concerns’ despite fast development

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Kate Bingham of the UK’s coronavirus Vaccines Task Force said she was confident safety standards remained high in the development of COVID-19 vaccines. While speaking on BBC News with Geeta Guru-Murthy she dismissed concerns of the safety and effectiveness of the new vaccines. She highlighted that significant increases in funding meant scientists were able to make progress quickly without compromising safety.

She did note that, like with most other vaccines, there could be some issues.

Ms Guru-Murthy said: “You are not worried about any side effects given the importance of your position, if you get ill from the effects of it?”

Ms Bingham replied: “No because these vaccines have been very widely tested.

“The safety testing has not been affected by the speed at which we have been developing vaccines so safety testing continues as normal.

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“Our funding has been able to accelerate the large clinical efficacy studies.

“I am entirely happy that the standards of safety are just as high as they always are.”

Ms Bingham also noted she was not pressured into taking part in the trial.

She added: “I joined the Novavax study enthusiastically, I did not do it because I felt I had to.

“But I was keen to have at least a 50 percent chance of receiving that vaccine.

“This is because I think they are going to be safe and effective vaccines although we do need to wait and see what the data tells us.”

The BBC host highlighted some of the issues the task force had warned could prove to be problems.

She said: “The first generation of vaccine is likely to be imperfect.

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“They may not prevent infection but they might reduce symptoms and they may not work for everyone.”

Ms Bingham replied: “It is not that different from flu vaccines.

“They are protective, they are not 100 percent protective and they don’t provide protection for more than several months to a year.

“Ultimately I think we are going to end up at a point where we can manage this disease, stop it from being a lethal disease and turn it into something that is manageable.” 

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