Randi Kay | The Science of Vaccines

Letters to the Editor
Letters to the Editor

Every American must decide for him/herself whether he/she will get a COVID-19 vaccine. Until one becomes available, there are several questions that must be addressed. 

In my opinion, any drug that is developed in response to extreme political pressure and for huge financial gain by pharmaceutical corporations and is referred to as “Project Warp Speed” is concerning. It sounds like something out of a “Star Wars” movie. 

The administration makes its constant “pitch” on TV that the vaccine will end the coronavirus. (The flu is still around despite the vaccine.) This dual-pronged “Warp Speed” and “pitched” approach does not inspire confidence in the public. Therefore, individuals who might normally have welcomed this vaccine likely will not accept it. 

The drug regulatory process involves a prescribed number of steps that are conducted to get a drug safely to the market. Circumventing any one of these steps may affect the integrity of the drug development process. Exactly what steps have been eliminated in order to speed up the process? 

Drug developers screen potential participants for acceptance into a study and participants are usually paid for their participation. They must have certain characteristics required by the study protocol in order to participate. 

For example, a study may not permit participants to have hypertension or diabetes, and might set age to between 18 to 64. Depending on the protocol, the screening criteria are different. They are usually not a reflection of the characteristics of people in the real world. Once a drug is approved and marketed, it is then distributed to the general public. After-market studies are conducted and the results may reveal additional side effects or adverse effects. This is not unusual. Historically, some drugs that have made it to the market have been recalled or taken off the market permanently. One such example was Thalidomide. 

The fact that California, Washington, Oregon and Nevada are considering conducting their own research on the vaccines prior to their distribution to the public is a good thing. I hate to say it but drug development is science, folks. That’s how you got your blood pressure medication to prevent you from having a stroke, your diabetes medication to prevent you from dying from high blood sugar, your chemotherapy to prevent your cancer from metastasizing and lots of other things in your life. You can deny it all you want, but that’s how we’re getting a COVID vaccine. 

Meanwhile, I would suggest wearing a mask, maintaining social distance, and staying home as much as possible. 

Randi Kay


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