Prof. Uğur Şahin: “What PAHO experts want you to know about vaccines.”

Prof. Uğur Şahin: “What PAHO experts want you to know about vaccines.”

With 47 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in testing, it is no wonder that there are myths and misconceptions about when a vaccine will actually be available to the public, and how safe it will be. Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) experts have recently addressed the media to clarify some of these issues.

The latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicate that, as of November 3, 2020, there are 47 COVID-19 vaccine candidates in clinical trial phases around the world. There are also as many as 155 in preclinical testing.

Given the sheer number of vaccine candidates that researchers have developed within months of the start of the pandemic, it is only natural that questions and doubts have arisen about this process.

Traditionally, it can take years for a vaccine candidate to undergo testing for safety and efficacy and to gain official approval for distribution to the public.

However, scientists have been ramping up their efforts with the aim of bringing a COVID-19 vaccine to the public in record time.

At this year’s WIRED Health:Tech conference, Prof. Uğur Şahin, the co-developer of one of the most promising vaccine candidates so far — the “Pfizer vaccine” — explained that speeding up does not mean that scientists are rushing the process.

Rather, researchers have been optimizing the vaccine development process by sharing more data across research teams and conducting some of the tests in parallel, rather than consecutively, Prof. Şahin explained.

Still, many people continue to have questions and doubts regarding the safety and efficacy of future COVID-19 vaccines, as well as the development process for vaccine candidates.

To address some of these questions, specialists affiliated with or collaborating with the PAHO held a dedicated webinar on October 23, 2020.

The speakers included:

  • Dr. Cuahtémoc Ruiz-Matuz, chief of the Comprehensive Family Immunization unit at the PAHO
  • Dr. Jarbas Barbosa, PAHO assistant director
  • Dr. Alba María Ropero Álvarez, PAHO regional advisor on immunization
  • Dr. Lucia Helena de Oliveira, PAHO regional advisor on new vaccines

 

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