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Insights: Helping New Vaccines Gain Trust During a Pandemic

November 01, 2016 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated May 05, 2020 16:14 PM UTC

Dr. Bruce Gellin, director of National Vaccine Program Office, explains calming public fears during a pandemic.

[MUSIC PLAYING] BRYAN WALSH: For someone who actually has to deal with vaccines and, you know, trust is a big issue there-- and we talked about that before-- when you deal with a new disease, how do you make sure that people actually trust those vaccines, especially if you're trying out new technologies to make them, perhaps test them even faster than you did before? BRUCE GELLIN: So in 2009, when we used the same technology to make flu vaccine for the pandemic, the only thing different about it was the virus. Everything else was the same. It was referred to as a novel virus and, somehow, people thought it was now a novel vaccine and were wary of this novel technology, so we had to get our language right. At the same time, I think it's also important that people expect that these vaccines are safe and proven safe and have the kind of systems in place to be able to say, yes, they are safe. I think that's where this-- the kinds of things you bring here might actually be a help to that. And we don't know when and where a pandemic will occur, but we know that when we're going to give a vaccine that may not have been tested in thousands of people ahead of time are given to millions of people, we need to have systems in place that are going to measure and monitor safety. That's where some of the big data can be great. I think that's where being able to comb EHRs if it's in a developed world to try to find that out sooner than we might otherwise, because we want to have the luxury of the perfect randomized clinical trial ahead of time. [MUSIC PLAYING]