On Monday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) commented that it requires a “great deal of seriousness and reflection” to give emergency authorisation to use of COVID-19 vaccines. The comment came after the United States expressed that it is likely to fast-track the process of approving the candidate vaccines for emergency use (ahead of the U.S Presidential election of 2020) to control the pandemic situation in the country.
WHO chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan, however, added that it is still a right of every country to decide if to approve vaccines’ use without completing full trials or not. Soumya said, “It is not something that you do very lightly”.
The head of the US Food and Drug Administration said that he is ready to skip the normal process required for approval in order to fast track the authorisation of the COVID-19 vaccine use if officials are assured that this would have more benefits than the risks.
Swaminathan said, “The WHO’s preferred approach would be to have a full set of data which could be used for the pre-qualification of vaccines. The WHO would then consider the efficacy and safety of each drug on a case by case basis”.
The head of the organisation’s emergencies programme, Mike Ryan commented that a fast-track approach ignoring full trials of the potential COVID-19 drugs may result in adverse effects on millions of people. He advised for having intensive monitoring and safety follow-up work if countries want to fast track the vaccines’ use. He also suggested that if problems occur in the process, then the decision to fast track the vaccine use should be scrapped immediately.
This month, Russia approved the use of COVID-19 Vaccine after just less than two months of testing making WHO raise concerns on the matter of safety regarding the use of the vaccine.