COVID-19 was not dangerous enough to justify cutting short vaccine trials as the vaccine had to be “very safe”, Chris Whitty advised the Government in the early weeks of the outbreak, it has emerged.
Writing on WhatsApp on February 29th 2020, the Chief Medical Officer told Government figures: “For a disease with a low (for the sake of argument 1%) mortality a vaccine has to be very safe so the safety studies can’t be shortcut. So important for the long run.”
The estimate of 1% turned out to be an overestimate, as the infection fatality rate in Europe and the Americas was found to be 0.3-0.4%.
Chief Scientist Patrick Vallance agreed with this advice and wrote that existing drugs should be relied on instead: “Agree, existing drugs best things to try for this outbreak. Accelerate vaccine testing where we have good candidates for future, and prepare for manufacturing capacity for longer term.”
Read More: Covid ‘Not Deadly Enough’ to Justify Risk of Fast-Track Vaccines, Chris Whitty Told Government