The Food and Drug Administration resisted pressure from the Trump administration on Tuesday by releasing a set of guidelines that could push an emergency use authorization of a coronavirus vaccine past Election Day.
The FDA’s new guidance notes that an Oct. 22 meeting of its Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee will not be to discuss specific vaccine candidates.
The FDA noted that a vaccine candidate must be at least 50% effective. Vaccine candidates should include a median follow-up duration of at least two months after completion of the full vaccination regimen to help provide adequate information to assess a vaccine’s risk-benefit.
"Being open and clear about the circumstances under which the issuance of an emergency use authorization for a COVID-19 vaccine would be appropriate is critical to building public confidence and ensuring the use of COVID-19 vaccines once available,” Peter Marks, M.D., Ph.D., director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said. The FDA's new guidance on emergency use authorization of COVID-19 vaccines underscores that commitment by further outlining the process and recommended scientific data and information that would support an emergency use authorization decision.
“In addition to outlining our expectations for vaccine sponsors, we also hope the agency's guidance on COVID-19 vaccines helps the public understand our science-based decision-making process that assures vaccine quality, safety and efficacy for any vaccine that is authorized or approved."
Trump previously said he would consider overruling the FDA on its vaccine guidelines in hopes of speeding up the process. There is both health and economic pressure for a vaccine to be developed as the coronavirus continues to claim an average of 800 US lives a day, according to Johns Hopkins University data. The number of deaths per day related to the coronavirus is expected to increase as the weather gets colder, according to the University of Washington’s Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation.
On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi blasted the Trump administration for involving itself in the vaccine approval process.
“Trust in the vaccine is key to the acceptance of the American people, which is essential to crushing the virus.
“The White House’s decision to reject FDA medical experts’ minimum safety and efficacy standards for emergency use authorization of a vaccine is an extremely dangerous act. We are all praying for a safe and effective vaccine as soon as possible, but the damage of the Trump Administration rushing a vaccine before it is known to be safe and effective could be catastrophic."
Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday that he expects a vaccine candidate to be given an emergency use authorization by the end of 2020.
"By the time we get to November, December, maybe earlier, I don't think it's going to be earlier, but it's still possible," Fauci said. "It will be early, but I think comfortably around November or December we'll know whether or not the vaccine is safe and effective. I actually am cautiously optimistic from what I've seen about preliminary data in phase one, that there's a very good chance we'll have a safe and effective vaccine."