President Trump has pushed for a coronavirus vaccine to be available by October — just before the presidential election — and a growing number of scientists, regulators and public health experts have expressed concern over what they see as a pattern of political arm-twisting by the Trump administration.
In that environment, a handful of drug companies competing to be among the first to develop coronavirus vaccines are planning to release a joint pledge meant to reassure the public that they will not seek a premature approvals.
Their statement, which has not been finalized, is expected to say that the companies will not release any vaccines that do not follow rigorous efficacy and safety standards, according to representatives of three of the companies.
The joint statement was planned for early next week, but it may be released earlier since its existence was made public on Friday by The Wall Street Journal. The manufacturers that are said to have signed the letter include Pfizer, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, GlaxoSmithKline and Sanofi.
Pfizer and Moderna, along with the British-based company AstraZeneca, are testing their candidates in late-stage clinical trials. Pfizer’s chief executive said this week that the company could see results as early as October, but the others have said only that they plan to release a vaccine by the end of the year.
The companies must navigate perilous terrain. If they are among the first to bring a successful vaccine to market, they could earn major profits and help rehabilitate the image of an industry battered by rising drug prices.
But if a vaccine turns out to have dangerous side effects for some people, the fallout could be catastrophic, damaging their corporate reputations, putting their broader portfolio of products at risk and broadly undermining trust in vaccines, one of the great public health advances in human history.