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Nevada, Oregon, Washington join California in promising extra safety reviews of COVID-19 vaccines

Posted at 9:57 AM, Oct 28, 2020

Nevada, Oregon and Washington have all agreed to join California in its plan to allow an independent group of health experts to review the safety and efficacy of any COVID-19 vaccines before they're approved for use in their states.

Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and Washington Gov. Jay Inslee — all of them Democrats — said Tuesday that they had agreed to join fellow Democrat, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, in subjecting any COVID-19 vaccines approved for emergency authorization use to further review by a panel of scientists and health experts.

According to a press release from Sisolak's office, the group's goal is that the additional review would not cause a delay in the distribution of vaccines.

"When the time comes, Nevadans will be able to feel confident in the safety of the vaccine knowing that an independent review by experts across the West gave it their seal of approval," Sisolak said in a statement.

"The FDA has made public information about the data required for authorizing a vaccine. That, combined with two independent federal groups, and our own Western States review process, should give the public pretty high confidence on the safety and efficacy of a COVID-19 vaccine," Inslee said in a statement. "When a safe vaccine is available, Washington state is going to be ready to distribute it in a way that is equitable, efficient, and most importantly, safe."

The announcement comes just over a week after Newsom said he was committed to further reviewing vaccines for safety after they have been approved by the FDA.

That panel will now expand to include representatives from Washington, Oregon and Nevada.

Most health experts believe several COVID-19 vaccines could be granted emergency approval by the end of the year. Should that timeline hold true, vaccines would be first distributed to essential workers and people in high-risk populations first and would then would be made available to the general public later in 2021.

In contradiction with his top health experts, President Donald Trump has at points promised that a vaccine could be approved ahead of election day, raising fears that Trump administration officials may be rushing the process for political reasons.

Nine drug companies have already signed a joint pledge, saying that they will not allow COVID-19 to be distributed if they're not proven to be safe.

Polling from earlier this year indicates that about half of Americans would not take a COVID-19 vaccine should one be made available — well below the level health experts say the country needs to reach to control the virus.