Calls Rise For FDA to Fully Approve COVID Vaccines Despite Concerns

( Medical, health and political experts are increasingly calling for officials from the Food and Drug Administration to work quickly to fully approve the vaccines for COVID-19.

These experts believe that if the vaccines were fully approved by the FDA, it would help legitimize them more, which could lead to an increase in the number of people getting the vaccine. Currently, the Moderna, Pfizer and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are all approved for emergency use, but haven’t received full FDA approval yet.

Right now, the country is going to fall well short of President Joe Biden’s goal of having 70% of all American adults being vaccinated by July 4. That being said, polling has indicated that full FDA approval could convince some people who have been hesitant to get the vaccine to finally get it.

Some unvaccinated people are looking at the vaccines as experimental still, since they are only approved for emergency use authorization.

In May, a poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation found roughly 32% of unvaccinated people said they’d be more likely to get inoculated once the vaccines receive full FDA approval.

That full approval was a bigger incentive for unvaccinated people to take the vaccine, according to the poll, over getting perks such as paid time off, free entry to various parks and recreation sites and even cash from the state they live in.

Pfizer began the process for submitting data to receive full FDA approval back on May 7, and Moderna followed with the same process on June 1. At this point, though, it’s uncertain when the FDA will act on those applications. This has led a number of people to call for the FDA to speed up the process.

Unvaccinated people are now at increasing risk of being infected, experts say, for two main reasons. First, with mask mandates gone and loosening restrictions across the country, they are exposed in ways they haven’t been in the last year. And second, the delta variant is proving to be highly transmissible and spreading in the U.S.

One of the senior scholars at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, Gigi Gronvall, said there shouldn’t be “political pressure” on the FDA to approve the vaccines quickly, “I would be interested in knowing what the holdup is.”

She continued:

“It could have a big impact on people getting [vaccinated] if it is FDA approved. I think it’s worth asking why it hasn’t happened yet.”

Others, though, are urging patience with the process. A former chief scientist at the FDA, Jesse Goodman, said:

“If they hurry it up and don’t complete their review very carefully, that will actually have the opposite effect. I think that would really undermine confidence.

“They’re moving quickly but they’re requiring a careful review.”

Goodman said the process may take “three or four months” and could wrap up sometime over the summer.