Western states form review board to test safety of COVID-19 vaccine

Washington, Oregon and Nevada recently joined California’s COVID-19 Scientific Safety Review Workgroup to independently review the safety and efficacy of any vaccine approved by the FDA for distribution.



“California has led with science and data through the COVID pandemic and when a vaccine becomes available, we will leverage our scientific expertise to verify its safety to give everyone the confidence they need to make important decisions regarding the health of their families,” California Gov. Newsom said in a statement. “This virus transcends our borders and we are grateful to partner with our neighboring states though our Scientific Safety Review Workgroup for a healthy and safe path forward for all our communities.”

The governors of all four states will appoint public health experts to join the workgroup. The consortium will review all vaccines for safety before any are made available to the public in California, Washington, Oregon or Nevada.

“We believe in science, public health and safety,” said Washington Gov. Jay Inslee in a statement. “That is why I am pleased that Washington is joining California and other western states in this effort. Any COVID vaccine must be guided by the expertise of scientists and medical professionals and that’s just what this workgroup will do. The Western States Pact will continue working together to ensure the best health outcomes for everyone in our states.”

The independent review conducted by this panel of doctors, scientists, and health experts will ensure that a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine is available to everyone, especially communities that have been disproportionately impacted by this disease, Oregon Gov. Kate Brown added.

“The vaccines currently in development, once approved, are what Americans have been waiting for to protect their families, their children, and their loved ones in long-term care facilities,” she said.

This state-led review process is a trend being seen around the country, mostly in states with Democratic governors. New York, Michigan, West Virginia, Washington D.C.  and others are creating independent vaccine review panels. West Virginia, led by a Republican governor, is putting together an advisory group of 20 to 25 pharmacists and physicians to review COVID-19 efficacy data.

“The federal government’s response to COVID and the White House’s dispute with the FDA raises serious questions about whether or not the vaccine has become politicized,” New York Governor Cuomo said in a statement.  “Frankly, I’m not going to trust the federal government’s opinion and I wouldn’t recommend to New Yorkers based on the federal government’s opinion. We’re going to put together our own review committee headed by the Department of Health to review the vaccine, and I’m appointing a committee that is going to come up with a vaccine distribution and implementation plan on how we will do it. New York’s response to COVID has been a model for this country, and we should also be the model vaccination program for the country.” 

States can legally restrict the use of FDA-approved products, like vaccines. But those actions can be challenged in court, according to a report by Politico.

A Western states coalition, which included Colorado, collaborated in April when determining how to safely reopen economies. The consortium is also piloting a project to test new exposure notification technology pioneered by Google and Apple.