As a public service, Shaw Media will provide open access to information related to the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) emergency. Sign up for the newsletter here
U.S. Rep. Bill Foster joined his Congressional colleagues this week in urging federal agencies to speed up the process to evaluate and approve a vaccine for the novel coronavirus.
Foster, D-Naperville, wrote the letter with 36 other members of Congress to the Health and Human Services secretary and the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, according to a news release. The legislators asked the officials to prepare to rapidly deploy a vaccine to the public once it's approved.
“Every week of delay in the deployment of a vaccine to the seven billion humans on Earth will cost thousands of lives," the members wrote. "Human misery also results from the economic damage caused by COVID-19 pandemic, and by the tragic psychological impact of social isolation on humans of all ages."
The legislators argued a more rapid process is needed considering the pandemic's "enormous" costs. Once developed, they wrote, domestic production and deployment of the vaccine should be "robust."
They also explained that under the typical process, approval for a vaccine could take between 18 months and several years. Therefore, the members requested the FDA consider testing vaccines using "challenge trials" which they said experts believe could speed up the timeline.
In challenge trials, volunteers are intentionally exposed to an infectious disease to test the efficacy of a vaccine. The members added they think the trials should follow the "principle of informed consent of truly voluntary subjects."