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Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top infectious-disease expert, said Friday that Americans can be confident that the new COVID-19 vaccine developed by Pfizer is safe. The vaccine, which had previously been approved by Canada and the United Kingdom, received FDA approval on Friday night and will be shipped today.
"We know it's safe, because if you look at the process that it's gone through for the determination of whether it's safe, as well as if it's efficacious, was a clinical trial involving 44,000 people," said Fauci on MSNBC's The Beat With Ari Melber on Friday, about three hours before the vaccine was officially FDA-approved. "The determination of the safety and the efficacy was made by an independent board, which is referred to as the data and safety monitoring board. They looked at the data, they found it to be safe and highly efficacious—about 95%—and even more efficacious against serious disease." Read on to hear more about why he thinks it's totally safe, and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had Coronavirus.
New Technology Behind Speedy Development, Fauci Says
Fauci said that Pfizer then submitted that information to the FDA, where career scientists scrutinized the results of its clinical trials. After that, an independent advisory board called the Vaccine and Related Products Advisory Committee looked at the data and determined it was safe and effective. After that step came the FDA's emergency use authorization.
'"Some of the things we need to make sure the American public appreciates is that these determinations about safety and efficacy were done independently and transparently, so that we see the data, we know about it," said Fauci. "There's nothing secret about it."
Melber asked Fauci about widespread doubts concerning the vaccine's safety. Some polls show that almost half of Americans are reluctant to get it.
"This is the fastest that has ever been from the time you've recognized a new pathogen—in this case, the coronavirus—to the time that a vaccine was ready to go into people," Fauci acknowledged. "A decade ago, that would have been unheard of. However, the speed of it was due to the extraordinary advances in the scientific advances of vaccine platform technology."
He said that millions of dollars were invested in vaccine development by the federal government and private companies, and vaccine doses were pre-ordered by the government, with the precondition that if any proposed vaccine didn't pass muster, it would be junked and the investment would be lost.
"It didn't compromise the scientific integrity," said Fauci. "Hundreds of millions, if not billions of dollars, was put upfront to produce the vaccine, even before we knew it was safe and effective. If it turns out to be safe and effective, you've saved months. If it turns out not—which wasn't the case, because it did turn out to be safe and effective—we would've lost a lot of money. But the decision was made that the risk to the money was worth the time saved."
How to Survive This Pandemic
As for yourself, do everything you can to prevent getting—and spreading—COVID-19 in the first place until enough people take the vaccine: Wear a face mask, get tested if you think you have coronavirus, avoid crowds (and bars, and house parties), practice social distancing, only run essential errands, wash your hands regularly, disinfect frequently touched surfaces, and to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these 35 Places You're Most Likely to Catch COVID.