Business Insider asked five infectious-disease experts when they’d feel confident getting a coronavirus vaccine. Experts who have been studying viruses and vaccines for decades don’t agree on when they’ll get a vaccine.The drugmakers behind the leading COVID-19 vaccine candidates expect conclusive results by the end of this year, potentially as soon as October, that demonstrate whether the shots prevent disease. These final studies, called phase-three trials, are enrolling tens of thousands of volunteers to determine whether or not these experimental vaccines outperform a placebo group. But it’s unclear how comprehensive that data will be. In interviews with five experts in vaccines and virology, Business Insider asked experts how they plan to assess the data and ultimately decide for themselves if they’d get the shot.
Some were confident they’d get vaccinated if US regulators determined it was safe and effective and recommended it for their age group. While they generally hope a vaccine will be highly effective, they’d also settle for a shot that’s less effective, more in line with the seasonal influenza vaccine that can be around 50% effective some years. Others want more specific data, either that represents their specific demographic group or long-term follow-up results for safety and effectiveness. Here’s what it would take for five infectious-disease experts to feel confident getting a COVID-19 vaccine.
Virologist Richard Condit: ‘I’m going to trust the people running the trials.’
Richard Condit has been studying viruses for several decades in the lab. While he’s well-versed in virology and infectious diseases, his primary expertise isn’t vaccine development. That leads him to trust the scientists most closely involved with these shots, he said. "I’m going to trust the people running the trials," he said. "If they say we have enough disease in the control group, so that we can say statistically this is a certain acceptable level of efficacy, and we haven’t seen significant adverse effects, I’m probably going to go for it." The 72-year-old retired virologist said he’s closely watching for signs of political pressure on vaccine decisions. Condit said he trusts the pharmaceutical companies along with the scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration, but he does not trust the Trump administration. "I trust what [Trump] would call the ‘deep state,’" he said. "I don’t say I’ll go ahead and get the vaccine without reservation," Condit said. "There’s a little bit of nervousness associated with that, but I’m 72 years old. I’m very healthy, but age-wise, I’m in a group that has sufficiently high risk … There’s significant probability that the benefit of being vaccinated exceeds the risk of that crappy outcome from getting the disease." Condit said ideally a coronavirus vaccine would be 80% or 90% effective. But he’d also still take one that was less effective but still helpful, such as one that reduces the chance of getting COVID-19 by 50%. "If I can get a vaccine that reduces my chances of getting this crappy disease by 50%, I’ll take it," he said, adding a 50% effective vaccine "is probably a stopgap measure that makes us safer but not completely safe."…
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