Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, on Sunday urged the public to put skepticism surrounding approved COVID-19 vaccines aside as polls have shown that a significant amount of Americans are hesitant about getting vaccinated, even as the country nears 300,000 deaths from the pandemic.
The first shipments of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine shipped out of its plant in Michigan on Sunday morning, just two days after the Food and Drug Administration authorized it for emergency use in the country. Pfizer’s vaccine has also received authorization in in the United Kingdom, Canada and Bahrain.
Pfizer’s Phase 3 trials reported that its vaccine has an efficacy of 95% when given in two doses that are three weeks apart.
During an interview on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Collins urged the public to “hit the reset button” on doubts surrounding approved COVID-19 vaccines as he emphasized the safety measures that were taken into approving the vaccines.
“I would like to plead to people who are listening to this this morning to really hit the reset button on whatever they think they knew about this vaccine that might cause them to be so skeptical,” Collins said. “The data is out there now.”
Collins emphasize the “very powerful outcome of this incredibly intense, yearlong experience” to develop COVID-19 vaccines while issuing his plea.
“I think all reasonable people — if they had the chance to put the noise aside and disregard all those terrible conspiracy theories — would look at this and say: I want this for my family, I want it for myself,” Collins said. “People are dying right now; how could you possibly say let’s wait and see if that might mean some terrible tragedy is going to befall.”
When asked whether rhetoric by President Trump — who has put pressure on public health officials such as FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to approve the vaccine prior to Hahn’s announcement of the FDA’s approval on Friday — plays into public skepticism of receiving COVID-19 vaccines, Collins believes that it does.
“I think that is part of the skepticism, along with a lot of other things that reflect the terrible polarization we have in this country about absolutely everything,” Collins said. “There have been few if any vaccines that have ever been subjected to this level of scrutiny. If you want to look at the facts, I think you should be very reassured.”
Watch Collins’ remarks below: