Vaccine experts speak out on COVID-19 vaccines and how to prepare
By Laura Subramanian, Anthony McDonnell, Robert Van Exan, Julie Rosenberg, Prashant Yadav, and Rebecca Weintraub
As the world awaits the results of COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials, we need to invest now in systems to ensure equitable global vaccine delivery. Sixteen vaccine experts from the vaccine industry, academic and regulatory agencies interviewed by the Center for Global Development and Ariadne Labs advised on how to do this. While being asked to inform quantitative models on COVID-19 vaccine success rates and timelines, they shared recommendations on COVID-19 vaccine communications, safety monitoring, manufacturing, and distribution, as well as lessons learned for pandemic vaccine development processes. Their overall message: the time to prepare is now.
1. Invest in communications, safety monitoring and public accountability to promote trust and acceptance of COVID-19 vaccines
Nearly all of the vaccine experts we interviewed expressed concerns about the impact of expedited COVID-19 vaccine development on vaccine acceptance. Experts noted that there are already rising rates of hesitancy to accept a COVID-19 vaccine. Moving quickly to market with a vaccine that is less effective or has prevalent side effects (both are possible, based on early trial results and the FDA’s 50% efficacy threshold) could further erode public trust in these vaccines, hamper efforts to achieve herd immunity, and even jeopardize trust in routine immunization programs. Given the level of public scrutiny for COVID-19 vaccines, even rare adverse events during rollout could affect vaccine demand. The experts recommended that we act now to invest in:
Tailored public health communications on COVID-19 vaccine portfolio and timelines
Experts flagged that most people need to accept a COVID-19 vaccine to help contain the pandemic, and achieving high vaccine uptake rates will require large investments in comprehensive communications efforts to manage public expectations and counter vaccine hesitancy. Communities need clear, accurate messaging on realistic COVID-19 vaccine timelines, efficacy, safety, benefits, potential side effects, etc. — with messages tailored to specific populations as needed.
Robust vaccine safety monitoring systems
Paid for by the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation ....