Why is there no fully approved Covid-19 vaccine and why is it important
By all accounts, the vaccine approval process is going faster than ever. However, the FDA has not yet released a timeline for when its work will be completed and the data is still under review.
On Wednesday, President Joe Biden told CNN reporter Don Lemon during CNN Townhall that he expects Covid-19 vaccines to receive full approval “quickly.”
“They don’t promise me any exact date, but my expectation, speaking to the group of scholars we’ve brought together … as well as others in the field, is that sometime, perhaps at the beginning of the school year, at the end of August, the beginning of September, October, They will get final approval.”
Earlier Wednesday, NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins told CNN reporter Jim Acosta that full approval could come in the “next two months.”
Vaccine maker Pfizer appears to be the furthest in the process.
Acting FDA Commissioner Dr. Janet Woodcock said the FDA intends to complete the review before the January deadline.
Since the FDA has already reviewed the manufacturing materials and is reviewing clinical data throughout, Tice said, “We do not expect the full priority review to last for six months.”
Our supplier schedule
“We are still in the process of completing the rolling submission, which we announced on June 1. It is not complete at the moment,” said Ray Jordan, a spokesperson for Moderna. “It’s not that the FDA has our final delivery and that we’re waiting to hear from them.”
Moderna expects to have its materials completed this fall. Moderna said the approval timeframe will then be subject to the FDA’s regulatory review process.
Where is the process now
Historically, getting a vaccine license by the fall would be fast, especially with the Food and Drug Administration having to review.
At this point, what takes time is that the agency has to go through absolutely everything, can’t skip a page, and there’s too much of everything.
The Covid-19 vaccines were given clearance based on provisional data that showed the vaccines were safe and effective for only three months. “Although when something is 95% effective, you can assume that it will probably be very effective for some time,” Offit said.
For full approval, the Food and Drug Administration has at least six months of efficacy data to review. “People say why is it taking so long?” Well, the FDA wants to make sure that it has a protective duration and a long-term effect.” “It’s not that the agency, I think, has any concerns about the vaccine per se, it’s just that in accordance with the licensing requirements, you should have this additional data .”
“The FDA doesn’t fall short on making sure your products are quality, purity, and potency.”
Offit thinks the data review has to go very quickly, because the FDA has been getting the data all along. It often takes time that the Food and Drug Administration must also validate the process that makes the vaccine licensed. Each step must be validated.
“Whether it’s computers that are used or scrubbing sinks, or whatever, there are a lot of boxes to tick to make sure there’s consistency in each piece to the next,” Offit said.
This means that a multidisciplinary team of FDA experts sift through millions of documents, perform their own analysis, get any clarification they need from vaccine companies, and give the manufacturing process a thorough check.
It’s not just one person from the Food and Drug Administration doing the review, Baylor said. There is a secondary and university review. So the doctor reviews the materials and then the supervisor needs to review them and then they are submitted to the department manager.
“We have some reviewers that are reviewing long into the night, really, this is not a 9 to 5 review,” Baylor said. “The public isn’t aware, but yes, people take their vacations, work weekends, Saturdays and Sundays. You work until night.”
“The FDA doesn’t sit around polluting its thumb,” Baylor said.
Calls to move faster
Although the process has historically moved quickly, it is not fast enough for some.
“I was frustrated because I knew it had to be approved by now,” Topol said. Janet Woodcock made a statement that this was ‘among the highest priorities’. No, it should be priority number one.’
Why full consent is important
However, with vaccination rates so low in the United States, some have pointed to approval as a surefire way to speed up the process.
“If it gets approved with the full approval of the Food and Drug Administration — which we all expect will come very soon…maybe in the next couple of months — the legal capacity to authorize becomes a lot stronger,” Collins, the NIH director said.