Unlicensed but approved vaccines have been tested to demonstrate safety, quality, and efficacy.
Dolores Cahill, a leading propagator of COVID-19 misinformation, has made another misleading claim. Calling COVID-19 vaccines an "experimental injection" on Facebook, Cahill alluded to questioning the safety of the vaccines.
According to her, "a medical product cannot be licensed when still in clinical trials." However, she failed to disclose that unlicensed vaccines have been tested to ensure safety, quality and efficacy. Indeed, the U.K.'s licensing authority only authorizes a COVID-19 vaccine if it is "satisfied that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate the safety, quality and efficacy of the vaccine," according to the U.K.'s Department of Health and Social Care.
Dolores Cahill shared a video of a caller speaking to BBC Radio Talkback's host Mark Carruthers and Ian Young, Nothern Ireland's Chief Scientific Advisor. In her caption, Cahill falsely claims that "a medical product can not be licensed when still in clinical trials" and accuses Young of failing to acknowledge that "Covid injections are all unlicensed medical products." Her post has been shared over 800 times and has received more than 1000 likes.
Firstly, Ian Young affirms that COVID-19 vaccines are "licensed and approved" by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), U.K.'s vaccine licensing authority. Earlier, the U.K. would wait for a vaccine authorization from the European Medicines Agency (EMA). However, from January 2021, the MHRA could temporarily authorize COVID-19 vaccines without waiting for the EMA approval.
Secondly, even if an unlicensed vaccine is approved, the MHRA will authorize the vaccine only if "there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate the safety, quality and efficacy of the vaccine." The U.K.'s Health and Social Care Department explicitly states that "unlicensed does not mean untested" and that in certain public health emergencies, the licensing authority may approve a vaccine without a product license.
This is not the first time that Logically has fact checked harmful COVID-19 claims made by Cahill. For instance, in July 2021, we debunked Cahill's claim that the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine reduced life expectancy by ten years. In addition, after making dubious claims regarding mask usage at an anti-lockdown protest, Dolores Cahill was removed as a lecturer from the University College Dublin.
COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and provide the best protection against COVID-19. According to Public Health England (PHE), vaccines have prevented over 7.2 million COVID-19 infections and 27,000 deaths in England alone.
The COVID-19 pandemic has given rise to a lot of potentially dangerous misinformation. For reliable advice on COVID-19, including symptoms, prevention, and available treatment, please refer to the World Health Organization or your national healthcare authority.