Just last week, the country’s top infectious disease expert said clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine could be stopped early if results are positive enough.
A phase three vaccine trial was paused just Tuesday after a participant suffered what could be a serious negative reaction.
So, we asked North Dakota’s top health expert: How do scientists know when it is actually safe to cut a trial short?
Chief Health Strategist Dr. Joshua Wynne says there are two big trial phases to focus on.
The first is safety. Scientists have to prove, first, that side effects would be minimal.
The second phase is the efficacy trial. In other words, does it work?
Dr. Wynne says typically, he’d like to see any trial go to completion, but when you weigh the toll that the virus has taken, he says if a vaccine is proving to be about 50 percent effective, he’d be OK moving it to market.
He says 75 percent would be ideal.
President Donald Trump has said on multiple occasions that a vaccine should be expected by the end of the year.
Dr. Wynne says that’s up to the experts.
“That is not a politician’s decision. It needs to be made on the evidence, and that’s best assessed by the scientists that are empowered to do the studies and interpret the data,” he explained.
Dr. Wynne referenced Dr. Anthony Fauci with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, saying he doesn’t think the end of the year is necessarily likely, but it is possible.