CNBC’s Scott Wapner talks to Merck CEO Ken Frazier about how the company is manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine, and what may be next in the race to a vaccine. For access to live and exclusive video from CNBC subscribe to CNBC PRO: https://cnb.cx/2NGeIvi
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier on Wednesday emphasized the need for patience and strict adherence to scientific principles in the global push to develop a vaccine to prevent the coronavirus.
“I know there are a lot of public voices talking about when vaccines will be ready, but the fact of the matter is you can’t rush science,” Frazier said on CNBC’s “Fast Money: Halftime Report.”
Frazier’s comments come one day after Merck and other leading vaccine developers, from both the U.S. and the U.K., issued a pledge to make safety the top priority as they seek regulatory approval. And later Tuesday, AstraZeneca, another signatory of the letter, said it was putting its late-stage vaccine trial on hold due to safety concerns, with one participant in the U.K. having a possible serious adverse reaction. The company called it a “routine action” that “has to happen whenever there is a potentially unexplained illness in one of the trials.”
The development of a Covid-19 vaccine is being intensely watched as the pandemic persists across the world. There are at least 27.6 million confirmed cases of the coronavirus worldwide, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University. At least 899,318 people have died.
In the U.S., where there at least 190,000 deaths linked to Covid-19, there has been growing concern about political considerations influencing the vaccine approval process.
President Donald Trump has established an effort to speed up coronavirus vaccine development in the U.S. called Operation Warp Speed, which has the goal of providing at least 300 million doses by January 2021. Trump has also suggested it is possible a vaccine could be approved, at least in some capacity, before Nov. 3 — the day of the presidential election.
Frazier earlier this summer said raising expectations that a vaccine could be ready by the end of 2020 was doing “grave disservice to the public.” On Wednesday, Frazier emphasized the need for clinical trials to proceed and referred to the letter issued by fellow drugmakers.
“We have to be very careful and deliberate. … We’re pledging, as the sponsors, as the developers, that we’re actually going to be that careful. We’re going to be that deliberate coming forward with these medicines because we know we’re going into healthy people and when you’re putting these vaccines into healthy people, you have to do everything possible to ensure that these vaccines are both safe and effective,” Frazier said.
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