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FDA Commissioner discusses COVID-19 vaccine safety

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MADISON (WKOW) -- As the race to develop a COVID-19 vaccine pushes forward, some people are becoming skeptical about getting the shot because of concerns the timeline is being influenced by political pressure.

A recent Marquette University Law School poll shows that one-third of Wisconsinites who were surveyed would definitely or probably not get a free COVID-19 vaccine. And a recent ABC News/IPSOS poll shows 53-percent of those who were surveyed have "no confidence at all in [President Trump] to confirm the safety and effectiveness of a potential vaccine."

FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn tells 27 News that before a vaccine candidate is approved for the general public to use, it must undergo rigorous analysis before it's approved.

"We, of course, want to expedite this as much as possible because everybody wants a safe and effective vaccine," said Hahn. "But we're not going to cut any corners, that's a promise."

In June, the FDA released guidance that outlined the criteria that they'll use to analyze applications.

Hahn says about 17,000 career professional scientists at the FDA will look at the data along with a vaccine advisory committee.

"[The committee] is a group of outside independent experts," Dr. Hahn said. "This will be a transparent and public process, they will see the data, they will ask questions, and they will give us their advice and comments regarding the [vaccine] applications that we receive."

Despite President Trump's claim that a vaccine will be proven safe and effective before the end of the year, Hahn couldn't say when one will be ready for use.

"I don't have a crystal ball," Hahn says. "The decisions we make regarding a vaccine will be based solely upon science and data and nothing else."

Currently, two vaccines are in phase three clinical trials. The AstraZeneca trial, which UW Health is a part of, is still on hold in the United States after a participant suffered a spinal cord  issue in the United Kingdom.

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