Public Health

From R&D to FDA Authorized and Approved: The COVID-19 Vaccine Process

October 22, 2020  • Aspen Ideas: Health

As the toll of COVID-19 continues to mount, the urgency to have safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines available becomes ever more pressing. And with vaccines being developed at “warp speed”, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a critical role to play in ensuring their safety and efficacy. Significant progress is being made with the science and testing, however, recent surveys reveal growing public concern about COVID-19 vaccines.

Join us as we explore the process of vaccine development, authorization or approval, and deployment with Obama Administration FDA Commissioner Dr. Peggy Hamburg and current FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn. The conversation was moderated by veteran health journalist and editor of Fortune Magazine, Clifton Leaf.

About the Speakers:

Dr. Stephen Hahn
Commissioner, US Food and Drug Administration
Dr. Stephen M. Hahn was sworn in as the 24th Commissioner of Food and Drugs on December 17, 2019. Dr. Hahn is a dedicated clinician, having trained in both medical oncology and radiation oncology. Prior to joining the FDA, Dr. Hahn served as the chief medical executive at The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, a facility that cares for more than 140,000 patients a year. Before joining MD Anderson, he served as chair of the Radiation Oncology department at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine from 2005 to 2014.

Dr. Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg
Former Commissioner, US Food and Drug Administration; Former Foreign Secretary, National Academy of Medicine
Margaret (Peggy) Hamburg recently retired as foreign secretary for the National Academy of Medicine, as well as completing her terms as president and board-chair of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She is an internationally recognized leader in public health, medicine, and science. Dr. Hamburg was the twenty-first commissioner of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where she was known for advancing regulatory science, modernizing regulatory pathways, and globalizing the agency. Before this, she was founding vice president and senior scientist at the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a foundation dedicated to reducing nuclear, chemical, and biological threats. Other past positions include assistant secretary of Health and Human Services for planning and evaluation, health commissioner for New York City, and assistant director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

Clifton Leaf
Editor-in-Chief, Fortune
Clifton Leaf is the Editor-in-Chief of Fortune, where he directs the editorial content and oversees the staff. Previously, he served as a guest editor for the New York Times op-ed page and Sunday Review, and was executive editor at both the Wall Street Journal’s SmartMoney magazine and Fortune. He is the author of the critically acclaimed book, The Truth in Small Doses: Why We’re Losing the War on Cancer—and How to Win It, which was named by Newsweek as one of The Best Books About Cancer, and which earned Cliff a Lifetime Achievement Award for cancer reporting from the European School of Oncology. A winner of the Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism, the NIHCM’s Health Care Journalism Award and a two-time finalist for the National Magazine Award, he has received several leadership honors for his efforts in the cancer fight. He has presented testimony to the President’s Cancer Panel three times and delivered Grand Rounds at the National Cancer Institute.