The COVID-19 Vaccine Debate: Validating Vaccines


Caroline Jacoby

With hundreds of thousands affected by COVID-19, scientists are working to quickly develop a safe vaccine for the public. This expedited timeline for the vaccine has left many people within the United States questioning whether or not they should take it. However, assuming there is transparency about the clinical trial results, it is essential to take the coronavirus vaccine in order to protect yourself and others from the virus.

Following President Trump’s claim that a vaccine would be ready in time for Election Day, the CEOs of nine drug companies issued a pledge Sept. 8 promising to wait until the vaccine is properly vetted before administering it to the public, according to statements from the companies involved, including Sanofi and Pfizer Inc. They reassured people that they are committed to transparency even while striving for the quick development of a safe COVID-19 vaccine.

On Oct. 6, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration released guidance on emergency use authorization of the vaccine. This guidance describes the requirements that the vaccine must meet to be administered, including data proving that the companies followed clinical trial participants for at least two months after their final injection. This requirement makes the vaccine’s trial process more transparent and ensures that drugmakers stick to a safe timeline. The COVID-19 Vaccine Maker Pledge and the FDA’s guidance should give us more confidence, serving as important reminders to trust scientists amid political turmoil.

The politicization of this vaccine, which is largely to blame for the concerns about its safety, sets a dangerous precedent of only believing in science when it suits one’s political interests. Vaccines, however, are vital to public health, and it is imperative to take them even when they have become the subject of political discourse.

Instead of worrying about a potential vaccine that is months away from public administration, we should focus on stopping the spread of COVID-19. In just seven months, there have been over 7.41 million cases and 209,000 COVID-19 deaths in the U.S, according to the CDC. The country has been unable to flatten the upward curve of COVID-19 cases, and at this rate, it seems unlikely without a vaccine.

Due to the country’s failure to practice social distancing or wear masks, COVID-19 cases will only continue to increase until herd immunity is achieved—a classification only possible if 70% of the population is immunized. Currently, only half of the country plans to take the vaccine, according to a poll conducted by Pew Research Center. Unless most of the country receives the vaccine, it won’t be effective in stopping the spread.

Although certain countries were able to initially eradicate the virus with social distancing protocols, some of these nations are experiencing a second wave of transmission. For example, New Zealand experienced a sudden spike in cases in August after controlling community transmission for months since the initial outbreak. This proves that it’s extremely difficult to eliminate the virus by social distancing alone.

In the U.S., the need for a vaccine is even more urgent than in other countries. The number of cases is still rising daily, and misinformation about COVID-19 has caused pushback against social distancing and mask mandates. If Americans continually refuse to adhere to social distancing, the only way to protect ourselves is to take the vaccine. Especially for those who are at low risk for COVID-19, it would be selfish to refuse the vaccine and allow the virus to continue killing thousands.

Click here to read Assistant Sports Editor Ryan Razmjoo’s counterpoint