A health advisor to President-elect Joe Biden on Monday urged Americans to have confidence in Covid-19 vaccines and told CNBC that the regulatory review of the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine is in line with scientific protocols.
"We know that this process used by the US to evaluate and approve the emergency vaccine was robust. It was scientifically sound and transparent," said Dr. Julie Morita on "Squawk Box". "That should be very reassuring to the public as we know the vaccines are safe and effective."
The Food and Drug Administration issued emergency clearance for the Pfizer BioNTech vaccine on Friday evening, setting in motion the complex logistical challenge of distributing it among US health workers and residents of long-term care facilities. It is expected that the vaccine will be received first. The FDA will meet later this week on an emergency proposal from Moderna. The supply of both vaccines, developed in less than a year in response to the devastating coronavirus pandemic, will initially be limited.
Morita – executive vice president of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, a philanthropic public health organization – said the vaccines, which receive limited regulatory approval, are just one hurdle that needs to be removed.
"Vaccines don't stop pandemics. Vaccinating people can stop this pandemic," said Morita, who sits on a team of health experts advising Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris on Covid-19.
A lack of confidence in the vaccine could prevent people from receiving the shots, Morita said.
Even in nursing homes that have been badly hit by Covid-19 outbreaks, there is skepticism about the vaccine. Overall, 60% of Americans say they will definitely or likely receive the vaccine, according to a poll by Pew Research earlier this month. In September, Pew found a value of 51%.
Ahead of the November 3 election, in which Biden defeated incumbent President Donald Trump, some voters were concerned that Trump would push vaccine development to increase his chances of a second term, according to a CNBC poll in September.
Morita, former Chicago city health commissioner, said Monday that Americans should understand that the vaccines are "safe, effective, and the process will not be politically influenced".