As drug companies work to develop coronavirus vaccines, most Americans worry politics could rush the process, a new poll finds.
Sixty-two percent of people think political pressure from the White House will make the U.S. government approve a vaccine without ensuring it’s safe and protects against the virus, according to findings released Thursday from the Kaiser Family Foundation.
Another 36% in the poll say they aren’t concerned that influence from Republican President Donald Trump’s administration will lead to approval before a vaccine is ready. And 1% each didn’t answer the question or replied that they didn’t know, results show.
The results are split along party lines, with 85% of Democrats and 35% of Republicans expressing concern about the potential for a fast approval process. Among independents, 61% were worried, findings show.
The responses were published after nine biopharmaceutical companies on Tuesday pledged they would share their COVID-19 vaccines with federal health officials only after they are deemed safe and effective, McClatchy News reported.
Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, told CBS News only science and data will determine when a vaccine is available. With drug manufacturers discussing the potential for distributing vaccines this year, Hahn said his agency won’t make a “decision on the basis of politics,” the news outlet reported earlier this month.
“Of course, everyone wants us to do this as quickly as possible,” he told CBS. “But I think everybody also wants us to do this safely and data-driven way as possible and that’s what FDA has done.”
But some in the recent poll think federal agencies have politics in mind when they consider treatments and guidelines related to the coronavirus.
According to the poll, 42% say the FDA puts “too much attention” on politics, while 39% think the same about the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The results come as the Trump administration is pushing states to prepare to distribute a COVID-19 vaccine by Nov. 1, two days before Election Day.
But if a vaccine is out by then, not everyone will be eager to get one, the new poll finds.
“If a coronavirus vaccine was indeed approved by the FDA before the election and was made available and free to everyone who wanted it, just four in ten adults (42%) say they would want to get vaccinated while a slight majority (54%) say they would not want to get vaccinated under those circumstances,” the Kaiser Family Foundation said.
To come up with the results, the health nonprofit says, it conducted a “nationally representative” phone survey from Aug. 28 to Sept. 3. The poll collected information from 1,199 U.S. adults and had a margin of error of “plus or minus 3 percentage points,” officials say.