Government officials, politicians, and industry leaders are doing the public a “grave disservice” by suggesting a COVID-19 vaccine could be ready by the end the year, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier said in an interview with the Harvard Business School.
“Ultimately, if you are going to use a vaccine in billions of people, you’d better know what that vaccine does,” said Frazier.
Vaccines typically take years before government approval, said Frazier. Merck’s vaccines against mumps and Ebola took at least four years of research and development, and there is still no vaccine against HIV, Frazier notes. In fact, only seven “new” vaccines have been developed in the last 25 years, said Frasier in the July 13 interview.
Two governors have defended their stay-at-home orders by citing the lack of a vaccine, saying they will continue to restrain public activities until a cure is ready. Illinois Gov. J. B. Pritzker said on May 5 he didn’t envision a return to normal until a vaccine was on the market. On May 7, California Gov. Gavin Newsom told reporters, “We’re not going back to normal. It’s a new normal with adaptations and modifications, until we get to immunity and a vaccine.”
“Merck CEO Ken Frazier Discusses a COVID Cure, Racism, and Why Leaders Need to Walk the Talk,” July 13, 2020: https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/merck-ceo-ken-frazier-speaks-about-a-covid-cure-racism-and-why-leaders-need-to-walk-the-talk