Citing criticism of government agencies and increasing public distrust of vaccines, several prominent physicians and experts are calling for the creation of an independent commission to review data from coronavirus vaccine trials before a vaccine is allowed on the market.
The United States Food and Drug Administration regulates vaccines, and its OK is all that's needed to put one on the market. The physicians fear, however, that after several government blunders during the pandemic, a layer of review independent from the government is needed to give Americans confidence that the shot is safe and effective.
Dr. Kathryn Stephenson, an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School, said she thought of the idea of an independent panel to increase trust in the vaccine after several colleagues told her they did not want to get a coronavirus vaccine when it becomes available.
"I'm hearing this from my peers, from doctors and nurses. They're not anti-vaxxers. They're pro vaccine. They vaccinated their own children. But they are skeptical about this vaccine," said Stephenson, director of the clinical trials unit at the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.
Separately from Stephenson, bioethicist Arthur Caplan arrived at the same conclusion.
"We're used to this world where if the FDA or the CDC or the NAS says something is safe and effective, that's enough, but I don't think this time that's sufficient to overturn public skepticism," said Caplan, referring to the US Centers for Disease Control and the National Academy of Sciences. "I think we desperately need an independent national commission."