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

(CNN and WPTA21) - 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.

The 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.

On Monday, Pres. Donald Trump touted his administration's push for a vaccine and said one "could" be ready for release in a matter of weeks.

"[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.

RELATED: COVID-19 vaccine latest flashpoint in White House campaign

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 Indiana University School of Medicine is seeking up to 1,500 volunteers to take part in a late-stage clinical trial of an experimental COVID-19 vaccine.

The medical school announced Thursday that it’s one of 81 sites in the U.S. -- and the only one in Indiana -- chosen to test the vaccine developed by British drugmaker AstraZeneca in partnership with Oxford University.

Jonathan Shelley

Jonathan Shelley is the news director at WPTA TV, which he joined in 2016 following nine years in a similar role in New Orleans and previous news management positions in Oklahoma City and Las Vegas.

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