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Gov. Newsom creates Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to advise on COVID-19 vaccines

October 20, 2020
Area(s) of Interest: Public Health 


As California continues to wrestle with the COVID-19 outbreak, the state is already making plans about how a vaccine will be distributed to the general public when the time comes.

This week, Gov. Gavin Newsom named a team of physicians to independently review the safety and efficacy of any FDA approved vaccine. California is among several states implementing an independent verification process as the issue of a COVID vaccine becomes increasingly politicized and polls show the public is skeptical about the timing and efficacy of a potential vaccine.

The state has also devised a COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan, which was submitted to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last week. Many vaccine candidates are currently in clinical trials, and California is putting a system in place for the distribution and administration of vaccine as supply becomes available.

“Our response to COVID-19 has and will continue to lead with data and science including when it comes to COVID-19 vaccines,” said Newsom at a press conference announcing the new measures this week. “California leads in science and by bringing together our state’s brightest scientific minds, we can ensure that any vaccine distributed here meets safety requirements. Recognizing that supplies will be limited initially and the first doses of vaccines must go to health care workers, first responders and others who are especially vulnerable to this disease, we are working to ensure that administration and distribution of an approved vaccine is equitable.”

Newsom said the goal is to ensure the vaccine is administered equitably, at first to those with the highest risk of becoming infected and spreading COVID-19.

“While a small number of doses of an FDA-approved vaccine could be deployed before year’s end, the reality is that the COVID-19 pandemic will be with us well into 2021 – and widespread vaccine distribution likely won’t occur for many more months,” said Erica Pan, M.D., acting state public health officer.

In addition to the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup, a separate group of experts in immunization, public health, ethics and health care has been formed to set guidelines for state  prioritization and allocation of the vaccine if supplies are limited.

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