Scientists around the world are currently undertaking one of the fastest vaccine-development programs in history, trying to get the novel coronavirus under control as quickly as humanly possible. But the vaccines being tested sit at a nexus of misinformation and mistrust. Between Trump’s apparent meddling in federal health agencies’ decision-making, skepticism about the seriousness of the disease, and long-standing culture wars around the safety of vaccines in general, it’s easy to find yourself floundering, unsure who you can trust.
So I spoke with a handful of people who really know how vaccines, clinical trials and COVID-19 work to find out how to know when it’s a good idea to get the vaccine. They offered these four pieces of advice.
Don’t get your COVID-19 vaccine advice from politicians or pharmaceutical companies, said William Schaffner, medical director of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases and a professor at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine. Instead, trust independent scientists and medical professionals — your doctor, for instance, or your state’s health commissioner.
But those people, in turn, need transparency from the drugmakers and government to be able to give informed advice. That means drug companies and the FDA should be disclosing not just trial data but also the standards they used to evaluate that data, their methods of analysis, and the reasoning behind any decisions they make about potential vaccines.