Pressure to create a coronavirus vaccine is increasing by the day, but for a safe vaccine to enter the market, it takes time.


At least five states – California, Nevada, New York, Oregon and Washington – and a Black medical group say they’ll conduct independent verification of any COVID-19 vaccines approved by Food and Drug Administration.

These review panels, which began popping up last month, are meant to instill public confidence and counter the political pall cast over COVID-19 vaccine development and approval. In recent weeks, faith has improved in the FDA’s commitment to base COVID-19 vaccines decisions in science, but the growing number of oversight groups seek to add another layer of trust.

And while some worry the independent review boards may hurt the effort, all agree establishing that trust is vitally important. A survey this month found only 58% of Americans said they would get vaccinated as soon as a vaccine became available.

“We would like to give Washingtonians the highest confidence that when a COVID-19 vaccine is available that it’s safe and works,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said of the pact.

The first push for oversight outside the FDA came Sept. 21, when the National Medical Association announced it would create an expert task force to review any decisions about COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. The association of Black physicians was founded in 1895 at a time when racism in medical groups excluded Black doctors. 

“Questions of political influence on scientific process because of Operation Warp Speed (OWS), have threatened the public trust in the FDA that will adversely affect participation in clinical trials, especially in the African-American community,” the association said in its announcement. 

The first state to launch an oversight group was New York, on Sept. 24. At the time there was significant concern in the scientific community the FDA was being pressured by the Trump Administration to approve a vaccine quickly in order to have it available by the presidential election.

It was an expectation President Trump has expressed in tweets, news conferences and during campaign rallies.  

“The White House’s dispute with the FDA raises serious questions about whether or not the vaccine has become politicized,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Sept. 24.

“Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion and I wouldn’t recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government’s opinion. We’re going to put together our own review committee headed by the Department of Health to review the vaccine.”

The climate around vaccines began to shift on Sept. 8, when vaccine developers issued a public letter vowing to keep politics out of science. Soon after, and defying White House pressure, the FDA stood firm in requiring at least two months of safety data before a vaccine could be considered for release. 

Still, last week, California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced the state would create an independent 11-member Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to study the safety of COVID-19 vaccines as an added safeguard to any efforts