The former commissioner of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said that the US needs to ‘win the vaccine race’ and become the first country to develop a jab to protect against the coronavirus.
Dr Scott Gottlieb, who led the federal agency between 2017 and April 2019, says that China and several countries in Europe are currently in the advanced stages of vaccine development.
In a op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, he says its vital the US manufactures the first vaccine because it will then be the first nation to recover.
‘The first country to the finish line will be first to restore its economy and global influence,’ Gottiieb wrote.
‘America risks being second. While friendly nations will try to share a successful product – to a point – the US can’t rely on vaccines from China or even Europe being available in America quickly.’
Dr Scott Gottlieb was the US Food and Drug Administration commissioner from 2017 to April 2019. Pictured: Gottlieb speaks during his confirmation hearing before a Senate committee, in Washington, DC, April 2017
He says its vital the US manufactures the first vaccine because it will then be the first nation to recover. Pictured: A scientist at RNA medicines company Arcturus Therapeutics research a vaccine for the coronavirus in San Diego, California, March 2020
Gottlieb points to China and several countries in Europe that have jabs in advanced stages of development. Pictured: Rescue workers push a stretcher with a patient outside the ER area at Holy Cross Hospital in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, April 20
There are currently more than 70 companies in countries around the world working on vaccine development.
Gottileb goes on to write that scientists in China have made fast progress, with three vaccines entering advanced development.
Wang Guiqiang, director of infectious diseases at Peking University’s First Hospital, told China Daily that the country has five types of vaccines in development, with the potential to be on the market by next year.
He also points to progress being made in Europe, where several candidates are under research or have begun testing in humans.
This week, Oxford University in the UK announces it was enrolling more than 6,000 participants in a trial to show the vaccine is safe and effective
With emergency approval and if the vaccine works, ‘a few million’ doses could be available as early as September.
Of those 70 companies working on developing vaccines, Gottlieb writes that ‘fewer than 20 have the experience and manufacturing scale to pull a product through development.’
What’s more, of those 20, only five or six operate mainly in the US.
This ‘means foreign governments might try to make a claim on a vaccine before America can,’ Gottlieb writes in The Journal.
‘To win the race to a vaccine, America needs to engineer a development and regulatory process that is unprecedented in scope and urgency.’
Among the steps that need to be taken include testing at least six different vaccine candidates at the same time, he says.
There also needs to be parallel development, mainly the FDA teaming up with companies to conduct safety testing while vaccine testing is assessed in cells or animal models.
Gottlieb adds that a large safety database should be created so that researchers known as soon as possible when a vaccine works.
‘The government should also give grants to manufacturers with the most promising vaccines to rush the construction of large factories and other facilities,’ he wrote.
In the US, there are currently more than 1.05 million confirmed of the virus and more than 60,000 deaths.