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'I trust the data': Medical experts say COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA will be safe

If a vaccine shows it's 50-60% effective, the FDA could issue an Emergency Use Authorization before Phase 3 trials are finished to approve the vaccine.

TAMPA, Fla. — Six months into the coronavirus pandemic and a vaccine could be on the horizon.

“We have a lot of people who wouldn't even take the vaccine, but, you know, they're a little worried about it," Dr. Michael Teng with USF Public Health said.

Teng says those worries are reasonable -- the COVID-19 vaccine is something new that’s never been done before.

“That's why we can't take any shortcuts. The FDA cannot take any shortcuts,” Teng said. 

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues on the fast track to approving a vaccine before the end of the year. Dr. Stephen Hahn is the head of the FDA. He says a vaccine will only be approved if the data from clinical trials support it. 

“Our decision at FDA will not be made on any other criteria than the science and data associated with these clinical trials,” Hahn said.

So far six different vaccines are in Phase 3 of clinical trials. The trials aren't complete, meaning researchers are still looking at how well the vaccine works and if it's safe. If a vaccine shows it's 50-60 percent effective, the FDA could issue an Emergency Use Authorization before Phase 3 trials are finished to approve the vaccine.

“There's been pressure to make sure that we get medical products as quickly as possible to the American people,” Hahn said.

Leading medical officials like Dr. Anthony Fauci say it's unlikely a vaccine will be distributed by the beginning of November. They hope to see the data of Phase 3 trials by the end of the year.

“Most of us project that that's going to be by November, December, or by the end of the year. Could this be earlier? Sure,” Fauci said. 

But, doctors do believe anything approved by the FDA can be trusted.

“I trust that the data coming out of the FDA will be correct. I just don't know what's going to happen when it goes up the food chain,” Teng said.

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