Katharine Van Tassel, visiting professor of law, and Sharona Hoffman, the Edgar A. Hahn Professor of Law, co-authored an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine about how vaccine-related adverse events would especially burden low-income people.
Ordinarily, it takes scientists about 10 years to develop a vaccine. By contrast, the pharmaceutical industry has worked toward emergency approval of COVID-19 vaccines in a matter of months.
With tens of thousands enrolled in clinical trials for various vaccines, common side effects that occur fairly soon after vaccination are likely to be identified. But the abbreviated development timeline provides little opportunity to identify adverse events such as joint pain, anaphylaxis or neurologic conditions such as encephalitis, transverse myelitis, or Guillain–Barré syndrome. Such events might occur in the long term, or are rare enough that they likely would not be discovered until the vaccine is distributed to substantial portion of the public.
Van Tassel and Hoffman explored how such complications would affect low-income people, who have limited financial resources to obtain medical care, weather any resulting job loss, and are disproportionately non-white.