Why a University of Michigan professor voted ‘No’ on Pfizer’s COVID vaccine

Virologist says 2 more months of research would answer questions

The FDA advisory panel voted 17-4 to reccommend the Pfizer vaccine. A final approval from FDA is expected.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. – The FDA advisory committee that recommended the Pfizer vaccine largely agreed it was safe and effective. Seventeen members voted for it and four voted against it.

One of those No votes came from Dr. A Oveta Fuller, a virologist and viral pathogen researcher at the University of Michigan. Dr. Fuller said she was concerned about the vaccine’s long-term impact.

“Because we are in a COVID pandemic and because so many lives are affected and because the public needs to understand so they know what to do,” Dr. Fuller said. “I felt like this is a lot. A heavy responsibility. It is very sobering and that’s how I take it.”

It’s not a lack of confidence in the research, it’s that she believes some specific questions about the risks did not get answered. Dr. Fuller said more data would help her be certain that she has done her due diligence.

As a researcher and an expert in how viruses behave, she still had questions on the table in terms of autoimmunity and hyper immunity. She just wanted a bit more research to answer a few more questions before creating a full path to widespread vaccinations to the masses.

“I am a great advocate for vaccines. I’m a virologist by training, I think viruses are amazing. I teach them. I study them. I engage the community about them,” Dr. Fuller said. “I think vaccines are a major way that we can stop or prevent infections but ‘a stitch in time saves nine.’”

Dr. Fuller says it would be better to release the vaccine gradually instead of going almost directly from the study to being given to millions of people.

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Dr. Fuller added that she believes just two more months of controlled studies would answer some of those specific questions.

Dr. Fuller, an associate professor of microbiology and immunology at University of Michigan Medical School will also be a member of the FDA advisory panel for the Moderna vaccine, Thursday, December 17th.

The FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee (VRBPAC), is made up of independent scientific and public health experts from around the country, who have been called on to discuss the first requests for emergency use authorization (EUA) for a vaccine for COVID-19 prevention.

You can watch the full interview with Dr. A. Oveta Fuller in the video below.

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About the Authors:

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.