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See the latest news and updates about COVID-19 and its impact on the Charlotte region, the Carolinas and beyond.

NC Health Secretary ‘Very Comfortable’ With Vaccine Testing Process

Mandy Cohen
NC Department of Public Safety


North Carolina’s top health official said she feels "very comfortable" with the federal process for testing and approving a coronavirus vaccine. 

State Health and Human Services Secretary Mandy Cohen told reporters on Tuesday that she has “heard personally from the career regulators” at the Food and Drug Administration about the process they are using to test potential vaccines and the safety and efficacy standards they will employ.

“I feel very comfortable right now as I hear about that process,” Cohen said.

Several companies are working on potential vaccines, but it's unclear when a viable option may be ready for the public.

“I think we all need to watch for the data, let the regulators do their job at the FDA and be ready to take the vaccine when it is safe, when it is available for everyone to have it,” Cohen said.

Cohen’s comments came after Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Cal Cunningham said that he “would be hesitant” to take a coronavirus vaccine.

Cunningham and incumbent Republican Thom Tillis were asked during a debate Monday night whether they would take the immunization if it arrives before Election Day. Cunningham said he "has questions."

“Historically and traditionally, I would support and have confidence in the Food and Drug Administration and the processes they go through to approve a drug,” he said. “But we have seen an extraordinary corruption in Washington.”

Cunningham pointed to the Trump administration not heeding recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Tillis said he would take the vaccine if it was approved by the FDA, which he called the “gold standard” of safety.

After the debate, Cunningham clarified his remarks and said he "won't hesitate" to take a vaccine if public health professionals, medical prfessionals, the FDA and scientists sign off on it. 

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Claire Donnelly is WFAE's health reporter. She previously worked at NPR member station KGOU in Oklahoma and also interned at WBEZ in Chicago and WAMU in Washington, D.C. She holds a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University and attended college at the University of Virginia, where she majored in Comparative Literature and Spanish. Claire is originally from Richmond, Virginia. Reach her at cdonnelly@wfae.org or on Twitter @donnellyclairee.