WA joining other western states to independently review safety, efficacy of possible COVID vaccines

OLYMPIA, Wash. — Washington is joining a pact with other western states to independently review the safety and efficacy of any COVID-19 vaccine approved by the FDA.

The Scientific Safety Review Workgroup includes Washington, Oregon, Nevada, Colorado and California.

During a press conference Tuesday, Governor Jay Inslee said the team reviewing the possible vaccines will be made up of both local and national health experts.

Inslee said the state will be ready to distribute a safe vaccine as soon as it is available and the team reviewing the vaccine will be working and reviewing possible vaccines as the FDA makes their decision on whether it or they are safe.

“We are committed to saving lives in our state” Inslee said.

Inslee noted that Washington state has one of the lowest infection rates of any state across the country. He said it is a result of people masking up and social distancing.

“We have saved thousands of lives in Washington already. We have the capability of saving even more lives before this vaccine,” Inslee said.

Inslee urged more mask wearing, saying it is also important that people mask up when gathering, even in their own homes.

State health experts have said Washington is currently experiencing a “fall surge” and more cases and deaths are expected if people do not practice COVID-19 safety protocols when inside and gathering during upcoming holidays.

State health officer Dr. Kathy Lofy said models from the University of Washington show Washingtonians could prevent about 1,000 deaths by February 1 if mask use is increased to 95 percent.

Lofy and Inslee said that efforts must be taken now to save lives and until a vaccine is available. When that is the case, Inslee said the majority of people need to get the vaccine in order to make it effective.

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