9 vaccine makers sign safety pledge in race for Covid-19 vaccine

Thomas Hansler, 54, receives a COVID-19 vaccination from Yaquelin De La Cruz at the Research Centers of America in Hollywood, Florida on August 13, 2020.

Nine biopharmaceutical companies have signed a joint pledge to uphold "high ethical standards," suggesting they won't seek premature government approval for Covid-19 vaccines.

This pledge, released on Tuesday, states: "We, the undersigned biopharmaceutical companies, want to make clear our on-going commitment to developing and testing potential vaccines for COVID-19 in accordance with high ethical standards and sound scientific principles."

The companies that signed the pledge include AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Moderna, Pfizer, Novavax, Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson and Merck.

The pledge comes at a time when President Trump has repeatedly pushed for a quick vaccine timeline -- even referencing Election Day in November.

"[It's] going to be done in a very short period of time -- could even have it during the month of October," the President said at a press briefing on Monday. "We'll have the vaccine soon, maybe before a special date. You know what date I'm talking about."

On August 6, Trump said he was "optimistic" a vaccine would be ready by November 3.

The pledge also comes just about a week after US Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said in an interview with the Financial Times that the agency could consider emergency use authorization or approval for a Covid-19 vaccine before critical Phase 3 trials are complete.

The nine companies on Tuesday wrote that they pledge to "Only submit for approval or emergency use authorization after demonstrating safety and efficacy through a Phase 3 clinical study that is designed and conducted to meet requirements of expert regulatory authorities such as FDA."

Pfizer and Moderna have vaccines in late-stage, Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States; Johnson & Johnson is preparing to start one. Vaccine makers are seeking to enroll at least 30,000 volunteers so they can tell whether the vaccine is really safe and protects people from infection.

The vaccine developers involved in the pledge to maintain high ethical standards for vaccines felt the need to reiterate their commitment to high ethical standards and scientific processes, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said on NBC's Today show on Tuesday.

"With increasing public concerns about the processes we are using to develop these vaccines, and even more importantly, the processes that will be used to evaluate these vaccines, we saw it as critical to come out and reiterate our commitment that we will develop our products, our vaccines, using the highest ethical standards and the most scientific [rigorous] processes," Bourla said.

The nine vaccine makers said they will stand with science, at a time when the world is looking to science -- in particular to a vaccine -- to help bring us to the end of the pandemic, Bourla said.

"The only rival here is the virus, and the time to get the vaccine to this," Bourla said.

He called the pledge between nine vaccine makers "historic" and "an unprecedented moment."

CNN's Elizabeth Cohen has contributed to this report.

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