On today's program: A task force assembled in June released its report about current police practices; three clinical trials for potential coronavirus vaccines were paused after some participants got sick; and this year’s flu shot could serve as a dress rehearsal for when a coronavirus vaccine becomes available.
“There were mistakes that were made” in police response to protests, says Community Task Force co-chair
(00:00 — 7:27)
Some peaceful protests in Pittsburgh over the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis were met with violent police encounters. In mid-June, within a few weeks of the start of the protests, Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto created a 15-member Community Task Force on Police Reform to review current police practices and police-community relations.
The task force unveiled its findings and recommendations in a new report with eight key focus areas and recommendations ranging from eliminating racial disparities to reimagining policing.
Creating and rebuilding trust with the public will take time and implementation of “many” of the recommendations from the report, says Valerie McDonald-Roberts, the co-chair of the task force.
“There were mistakes that were made and there were people that were hurt and we have to make sure that we rectify that,” McDonald-Roberts says. “The biggest way to rectify it is to make sure it never happens again.”
Pauses in coronavirus vaccine trials are part of “the normal run of the process,” says Pitt researcher
(7:28 — 13:35)
Coronavirus infections are trending upward across the country, stretching healthcare providers and raising concerns across the country. Vaccines -- which typically require years of research and testing -- are in human trials but will likely not be available until next year.
Three clinical trials for potential coronavirus vaccines have been paused, but Dr. Paul Duprex, the director of the University of Pittsburgh’s Center for Vaccine Research, says the public should not be concerned.
“What you’re seeing is the normal run of the process,” he says. “It’s just, we’re talking about it. That’s really the big difference.”
Duprex says that pauses are not typically reported to the general public, but are a part of the development process and should be expected. They’re a sign that despite the compressed timeline for vaccine development, manufacturers are still following FDA rules and guidelines. According to Duprex, reporting these pauses can even help build consumer confidence in the final vaccine, which is vital to ensuring that people want to take it.
“We can make the vaccines, we can test the vaccines, we can license the vaccines. But it is the individuals, the people who want to be vaccinated—if they don’t want to take the vaccines because they are not confident in it that is a tragedy,” Duprex says.
Distribution of the coronavirus vaccine will depend on local infrastructure
(13:37 — 17:48)
Developing a vaccine is just half the battle when it comes to inoculating the public against the coronavirus. 90.5 WESA’s Sarah Boden reports you’ll also need a research-grade freezer, a ton of space and lots of planning.
The Confluence, where the news comes together, is 90.5 WESA’s daily news program. Tune in weekdays at 9 a.m. to hear newsmakers and innovators take an in-depth look at stories important to the Pittsburgh region. Find more episodes of The Confluence here or wherever you get your podcasts.