UIC experts part of Chicago’s Scientific COVID-19 Vaccine Work Group

Several University of Illinois Chicago faculty are members of the Chicago Scientific COVID-19 Vaccine Work Group. This group, convened by the Chicago Department of Public Health, is tasked with independently evaluating whether or not the proper scientific and regulatory review has taken place for authorizing emergency use for COVID-19 vaccines.

Dr. Wayne Giles, dean of the UIC School of Public Health; Phoenix Matthews, associate professor of health systems sciences at the College of Nursing; and Stephanie Crawford, professor of pharmacy systems, outcomes and policy at the College of Pharmacy, are members of the working group.

Members have nationally recognized expertise in areas including vaccines, infectious diseases, clinical trials, statistics, regulatory affairs and public health.

“It’s important that there be reviews of the data by independent bodies such as our working group not only to evaluate the soundness of the studies but to reassure the public that the vaccine has been deemed safe by local experts outside the FDA and drug companies,” Giles said.

The Pfizer vaccine was granted emergency use authorization, or EUA, by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Dec. 11.

On Dec. 13, the group met and determined that the FDA’s evaluation of Pfizer’s clinical trial data was rigorous, and the decision-making process for issuing the EUA for the Pfizer vaccine was transparent and sound and that accelerated vaccine development and approval did not sacrifice scientific standards or the integrity of the FDA evaluation process.

“Providing reassurances to community members about safety is critically important to the success of widespread vaccination programs,” Matthews said. “In addition to assurances about the scientific integrity of the research, intentional and thoughtful allocation of resources for targeted outreach and education in those communities disproportionately impacted by the pandemic will be key to Chicago’s success.”

Crawford said that the working group is convening again to discuss the Moderna vaccine which was granted emergency use authorization on Dec. 18.

“Our working group with its collective expertise across different disciplines validates the process used to approve the vaccine and helps assure the thousands of health care workers who are first in line to get the vaccine, and the public after them, that the FDA approved the emergency uses of the vaccine based on sound science and rational consideration for the risks and benefits,” Crawford said.

Written by Sharon Parmet

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