Hundreds of doctors have asked the FDA not to rush—or politicize—a coronavirus vaccine

"There's only one thing more dangerous than a bad virus, and that's a bad vaccine," Dr. Mike Ryan, executive director of WHO's health emergencies programme, said in March. "We have to be very, very, very careful in developing any product that we're going to inject into potentially most of the world population."

Since the beginning of the pandemic, experts have said that developing a vaccine and getting it through the necessary safety and efficacy protocols would take, at minimum, 12 to 18 months. Yet here we are, 7 months in, and Vladimir Putin has just announced that Russia has already approved a vaccine for the coronavirus.

According to the BBC, there are more than 100 vaccines in various stages of development and testing. Six of those have reached phase 3 trials, involving more widespread testing in humans. Russia's vaccine is not among those six.

Meanwhile, hundreds of U.S. doctors have signed a letter urging the FDA not to rush or politicize vaccine trials.


"We are experts in virology, epidemiology, vaccinology, infectious disease, clinical care and public health," the letter opens, before declaring the "urgent" need for a COVID-19 vaccine. "We are committed to promoting the broad uptake of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines. The need is urgent but all vaccines must be rigorously studied to determine whether their benefits exceed their risks."

The letter expresses concern that public confidence in a vaccine will be greatly undermined by rushing the process, and that thorough safety trials must be followed through in order for doctors themselves to confidently recommend and administer one.

For those reasons, the doctors urged transparency in the process of trialing and documenting any potential vaccines:

"The foundation of public confidence in vaccine safety has long been, and must remain, the well-established and trusted FDA approval procedures. The public is typically and rightly able to comment on vaccine approval. It is important that investigators share Phase 3 trial design details. For example, Data Safety Monitoring Boards apply predetermined 'stopping rules' to decide whether a study should be terminated early based on the detection of early benefits, the likelihood of no benefit, or the emergence of serious safety problems. These stopping rules should be publicly available. There must also be continuous monitoring for unexpected severe side effects that might only become apparent after large numbers of people are vaccinated."

Finally, they drove home the point that doctors can only recommend a vaccine if they believe it is safe, and that evaluating safety can only be done with a transparent process unmarred by politics.

"We can only perform as advocates if we ourselves are persuaded that the vaccine(s) truly is safe and effective. We must be able to explain to the public what we know and what we don't know about these vaccines. For that to happen, we must be able to witness a transparent and rigorous FDA approval process that is devoid of political considerations."

Russia's announcement could very well push vaccine makers and the government to rush the development and trialing process, which would be a mistake. Vaccine development usually takes years, not months, and skipping safety steps in the name of competition or expediency could make public health problems worse, not better.

As always, government needs to listen to the health experts on this front. We need a vaccine as soon as possible, but we also need to make sure we utilize the knowledge and processes that will ensure any vaccine will be safe to administer, no matter which company or country gets there first.

Joy

Man uses TikTok to offer 'dinner with dad' to any kid that needs one, even adult ones

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud.

Come for the food, stay for the wholesomeness.

Summer Clayton is the father of 2.4 million kids and he couldn’t be more proud. His TikTok channel is dedicated to giving people intimate conversations they might long to have with their own father, but can’t. The most popular is his “Dinner With Dad” segment.

The concept is simple: Clayton, aka Dad, always sets down two plates of food. He always tells you what’s for dinner. He always blesses the food. He always checks in with how you’re doing.

I stress the stability here, because as someone who grew up with a less-than-stable relationship with their parents, it stood out immediately. I found myself breathing a sigh of relief at Clayton’s consistency. I also noticed the immediate emotional connection created just by being asked, “How was your day?” According to relationship coach and couples counselor Don Olund, these two elements—stability and connection—are fundamental cravings that children have of their parents. Perhaps we never really stop needing it from them.


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Connecticut Senator Chris Murphy asked his Senate colleagues the questions millions of Americans have after a mass shooting.

Another school shooting. Another mass murder of innocent children. They were elementary school kids this time. There were 18 children killed—so far—this time.

The fact that I can say "this time" is enraging, but that's the routine nature of mass shootings in the U.S. It happened in Texas this time. At least three adults were killed this time. The shooter was a teenager this time.

The details this time may be different than the last time and the time before that, and the time before that, and the time before that. But there's one thing all mass shootings have in common. No, it's not mental illness. It's not racism or misogyny or religious extremism. It's not bad parenting or violent video games or lack of religion.

Some of those things have been factors in some shootings, but the single common denominator in every mass shooting is guns. That's not a secret. It's not controversial. It's fact. The only thing all mass shootings have in common is guns.

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Joy

Meet Eva, the hero dog who risked her life saving her owner from a mountain lion

Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva when a mountain lion suddenly appeared.

Photo by Didssph on Unsplash

A sweet face and fierce loyalty: Belgian Malinois defends owner.

The Belgian Malinois is a special breed of dog. It's highly intelligent, extremely athletic and needs a ton of interaction. While these attributes make the Belgian Malinois the perfect dog for police and military work, they can be a bit of a handful as a typical pet.

As Belgian Malinois owner Erin Wilson jokingly told NPR, they’re basically "a German shepherd on steroids or crack or cocaine.”

It was her Malinois Eva’s natural drive, however, that ended up saving Wilson’s life.

According to a news release from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Wilson had been walking down a path with Eva slightly ahead of her when a mountain lion suddenly appeared and swiped Wilson across the left shoulder. She quickly yelled Eva’s name and the dog’s instincts kicked in immediately. Eva rushed in to defend her owner.

It wasn’t long, though, before the mountain lion won the upper hand, much to Wilson’s horror.

She told TODAY, “They fought for a couple seconds, and then I heard her start crying. That’s when the cat latched on to her skull.”

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