Is speed more important than safety? Operation Warp Speed triggers public fears regulators are cutting coronavirus vaccine corners

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Credit: Mandel Ngan/AFP

“I’m a bit concerned to see there’s a fair amount of skepticism in the American public about whether or not they would take [a coronavirus] vaccine,” [NIH director] Dr. Francis Collins told CNN in an interview. “We won’t get past Covid-19 unless we have a substantial majority of our public ultimately rendered immune.”

Some vaccine experts are concerned that President Trump’s chosen moniker for the vaccine development campaign — “Operation Warp Speed” — isn’t helping. They fear that name could leave the impression that speed is more important than safety.

“I want to assure everybody who’s heard the [words] ‘warp speed’ and worried that that means we’re cutting corners on safety, that we absolutely will not do this,” Collins said.

Related article:  Autistic children and their siblings less likely to be vaccinated

But in some US communities, anti-vaccine sentiment runs so high that last year, more than 1,200 people contracted measles, a disease that’s preventable with a vaccine.


Generally, with any vaccine, one dose is preferred for cost reasons, and also because people might not show up for the second shot.

Collins said the Phase 3 trials will reveal whether one or two injections will be necessary.

“There is certainly a chance that one or more of these vaccines might turn out to require two shots in order to get full immune response. That’s one of the reasons to do the experiments and the research trials to find that out,” he said.

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