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NIH head says vaccine pause should reassure on safety, while Harris says no to Trump vaccine

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The head of the National Institute of Health told Congress today that the trial-halt by AstraZeneca over an adverse event in one trial participant should reassure everyone about the safety protocols that are being followed by vaccine researchers.

“This ought to be reassuring,” NIH Director Dr. Francis Collins said before a Senate committee, according to Local10.com. “When we say we are going to focus first on safety and make no compromises, here is Exhibit A of how that is happening in practice.”

Collins, 70, is the former head of the Human Genome Project that helped map the entire genetic structure. He also is a noted Christian, who converted to Christianity after medical school and wrote a well-received book on the topic of Christianity called The Language of God: A Scientist Presents Evidence for Belief.

“In large trials illnesses will happen by chance but must be independently reviewed to check this carefully,” said AstraZeneca in a statement, according to NBC News. “We are working to expedite the review of the single event to minimize any potential impact on the trial timeline. We are committed to the safety of our participants and the highest standards of conduct in our trials.”

AstraZeneca and Oxford University are conducting a Phase 3 clinical trial of a vaccine against COVID-19 that thus far has been shown to be safe and effective according to such standards as are used by the FDA to evaluate them in trials.

Experts, including Collins, say that in any large trial, adverse events can be expected and have to be analyzed to make sure they are not caused by the drugs being investigated.  

“To have a clinical hold, as has been placed on AstraZeneca as of yesterday because of a single, serious adverse event, is not at all unprecedented,” Collins said according to Yahoo News. “This certainly happens in any large-scale trial where you have tens of thousands of people invested in taking part, and some of them may get ill, and you always have to try to figure out is that because of the vaccine or were they going to get that illness anyway?”

The testimony combats suggestions by some Democrats that any vaccine approved by the FDA under Donald Trump will somehow be recklessly approved by Trump while being opposed by scientists.

When asked if she’d take a vaccine approved under the Trump administration, Democrat vice-presidential nominee recently equivocated.

“I will say that I would not trust Donald Trump and it would have to be a credible source of information that talks about the efficacy and the reliability of whatever he’s talking about,” she said during an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” that aired on Sunday, says the New York Post. “I will not take his word for it.”

PHOTO: KIRSTY WIGGLESWORTH/AP

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