A health advisor to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday urged Americans to have confidence in Covid-19 vaccines, telling CNBC the regulatory review for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine adhered to scientific protocols.
“We know that this process that has been used by the U.S. to evaluate and to approve the vaccine for emergency use was robust. It was science-based, and it was transparent,” Dr. Julie Morita said on “Squawk Box.” “That should be very reassuring to the public because we know the vaccines are safe and effective.”
The Food and Drug Administration on Friday night granted emergency clearance for the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine, setting in motion the complex logistical challenge of distributing it across the U.S. Health-care workers and residents of long-term care facilities are expected to receive the vaccine first. The FDA is set to meet later this week on an emergency use application from Moderna. Supplies of both vaccines, which were developed in less than a year in response to the devastating coronavirus pandemic, will be limited initially.
Morita — executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on public health — said the vaccines receiving limited regulatory approval is just one hurdle that needs to be cleared.
“Vaccines don’t stop pandemics. Making sure that people are vaccinated is what can stop this pandemic,” said Morita, who sits on a team of health experts that are advising Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Covid-19.
A lack of trust in the vaccine may stop people from wanting to receive the shots, Morita said.
Indeed, even in nursing homes, which have been been hit hard by Covid-19 outbreaks, there is skepticism of the vaccine. Overall, 60% of Americans say they will definitely or probably get the vaccine, according to a Pew Research poll from earlier this month. In September, Pew found that figure to be 51%.
Prior to the Nov. 3 election, in which Biden defeated incumbent President Donald Trump, some voters were worried Trump was rushing along vaccine development to boost his chances of winning a second term, according to a CNBC poll in September.
Morita, former health commissioner for the city of Chicago, stressed Monday that American people should understand that the vaccines are “safe, that they’re effective, and the process was not influenced by politics.”