Story at a glance

  • Sixty-two percent of registered voters surveyed said they feared political pressure from the Trump administration will cause the Food and Drug Administration to prematurely approve a coronavirus vaccine.
  • Eighty-five percent of Democrats said they were worried about a rushed vaccine compared to 35 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of independents.
  • Health experts and drug companies have taken steps to reassure the public that there would be no corners cut in developing a safe and effective vaccine.

A majority of Americans are concerned political pressure could lead to the rushed approval of a coronavirus vaccine, and half would not get a vaccine that was approved before the presidential election, a Kaiser Family Foundation poll found. 

The poll found 62 percent of registered voters surveyed said they feared political pressure from the Trump administration will cause the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to prematurely approve a COVID-19 vaccine without ensuring that it’s safe and effective. 


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Along party lines, 85 percent of Democrats said they were worried about a rushed vaccine compared to 35 percent of Republicans and 61 percent of independents. 

More than half of participants said they would not want the vaccine if it was approved before Election Day and was free, while 42 percent said they would get the vaccine. 

“Public skepticism about the FDA and the process of approving a vaccine is eroding public confidence even before a vaccine gets to the starting gate,” Kaiser Family Foundation President and CEO Drew Altman said in a statement. 

The findings come as President Trump has floated the idea that a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready in early November. 

“We’ll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date. You know what date I’m talking about,” Trump said in a news conference Monday. 

Health officials said it’s unlikely a vaccine will prove to be safe and effective before the Nov. 3 election but estimated one would likely be ready for high-risk groups such as health care workers and the elderly with comorbidities before the year is out. Widespread distribution of a vaccine likely wouldn’t occur until mid-2021. 


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But while there are fears about a potential compromise in safety of a vaccine, many prominent health experts and drug companies have taken steps to reassure the public that there would be no corners cut. 

Several pharmaceutical companies working on coronavirus vaccines, including Pfizer, AstraZeneca and Moderna, on Tuesday issued a rare joint pledge stating the companies will not seek FDA approval for their vaccines until rigorous phase three clinical trials show one is safe and effective. 

FDA Commissioner Stephan Hahn has also offered reassurances that his agency will base vaccine decisions only on science and not on politics. 

Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), told Congress Wednesday that U.S. health officials would not skip any regulatory steps when developing and approving a vaccine. 

“The critical final steps in clinical trials will be well-coordinated and done in parallel with manufacturing, but with NIH and industry providing the FDA with all of the critical safety and efficacy data necessary for sound scientific decision- making,” Collins told a Senate committee. 

Officials have emphasized that independent data and safety monitoring boards look into the data from clinical three trials. 

The poll was conducted among 1,199 adults from Aug. 28 through Sept. 3. The margin of error is plus or minus 3 percentage points.


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Published on Sep 10, 2020