More than 300 vaccines are currently in development to fight the coronavirus behind the COVID-19 pandemic, and approximately 40 have already advanced to clinical trials. In the vanguard for the U.S. are eight potential vaccines backed by the federal government’s Operation Warp Speed (OWS), a private-public partnership that has already spent $10 billion in an effort to bring a COVID-19 vaccine to the general public by 2021.
As Operation Warp Speed’s vaccines are brought rapidly through testing phases to production, ethical concerns for Catholics have focused mainly on two main areas: ensuring that any vaccines being produced have no complicity in abortion and ensuring that vaccine trials are not compromised, especially by profit or political motives, when it comes to guaranteeing their safety and effectiveness.
“It’s newer technology, and people are still figuring it out,” David Prentice, vice president and research director for the Charlotte Lozier Institute, told the Register, noting that only a couple of the OWS pharmaceutical companies have actually brought to market a vaccine approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The FDA is demanding a COVID-19 vaccine have at least 50% effectiveness.
While Prentice has confidence the FDA would only approve a COVID-19 vaccine if it were safe, he said, “My concern is that we have at least one choice that is ethically produced.”
According to The New York Times’ Coronavirus Vaccine Tracker, there are 27 vaccines in Phase 1 safety trials (small sets of people), 14 vaccines in Phase 2 (expanded trials involving hundreds of participants), and nine vaccines in Phase 3 efficacy trials, which involve thousands of participants and are necessary to catch potential adverse effects not caught in the smaller studies. The Times’ count captures vaccines that have combined Phase 1-2 or Phase 2-3 clinical trials.
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