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Nine drug companies vow that safety will be top priority for COVID-19 vaccine

Nine CEOs from drug companies have vowed that safety will be the top priority when developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Yahoo Finance's Anjalee Khemlani joins the On the Move panel to discuss.

Video Transcript

JULIE HYMAN: Well, one of the things that Mike mentioned that a lot of investors are waiting for is a coronavirus vaccine, of course, and nine drug and biotech company CEOs have now signed a pledge signifying their commitment to ethical and scientific principles in developing vaccines. Our Anjalee Khemlani is here to talk us through this. And this seems to be a direct response to some of the reports out recently that there would be pressure from the administration to come out with a vaccine just before the election.

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: That's right, Julie. This seems like just another step sort of if you look at sort of the progression of how this has come about. We've seen the pressure from the White House and President Trump touting the idea of a vaccine ready before, and ready for distribution, rather, by Election Day. Meanwhile, you have all the top scientists and health officials in the administration saying exactly the opposite, that while there communications of a working vaccine by that time, there won't necessarily be one ready for the market.

And so, that's sort of what everyone is keeping an eye on. So these companies have sort of taken that up. While we've already heard from FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and others that they are going to focus on the safety and efficacy of a vaccine. Now, these companies are all coming in, and these are all the front runners that we know, Moderna, Novavax, Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer, Biotech, Sanofi, GFK and others.

So these are the ones that are sort of key in the race, and those are the ones who are facing this pressure. And they've also indicated very clearly that they will not in fact apply for an emergency use authorization, which could be that sort of a loop around, until these phase three trials have some sort of indication. So, all in all going to that second quarter availability timeline possibly for more widespread use.

JULIE HYMAN: And, Anjalee, all of this also speaks to the challenge of getting people to actually take the vaccine, right? There have been reports that people might be skeptical, and so if there are questions about its safety, that's going to be a problem. Have we heard anything more from the drug makers or from policymakers, health care policy makers, that is, about maybe creative ways to get the vaccine out there and convince people to take it?

ANJALEE KHEMLANI: There have been some suggestions that similar to when the 2009 pandemic hit that there were campaigns, and there has been some sort of surprise that there aren't really campaigns just yet to encourage people to take them. You've heard a lot of officials talking about why it's necessary to encourage people and even Pfizer CEO recently said, you know, people who don't take that vaccine will become the weak link, which goes to the general concept of vaccines and sort of why, you know, there is that push during flu season as well. The more people that are inoculated, the less something can spread is the idea. And so, that's definitely something that many health experts are hoping will happen, some sort of campaign will be rolled out.

JULIE HYMAN: We will be watching and waiting. Thank you, Anjalee, appreciate it.