These Secret Safety Panels Will Pick the COVID Vaccine Winners

Most Americans have never heard of Dr. Richard Whitley, an expert in pediatric infectious diseases at the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

Yet as the coronavirus pandemic drags on and the public eagerly awaits a vaccine, he may well be among the most powerful people in the country.

Whitley leads a small, secret panel of experts tasked with reviewing crucial data on the safety and effectiveness of coronavirus vaccines that U.S. taxpayers have helped fund, including products from Moderna, AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson and others. The data and safety monitoring board — known as a DSMB — is supposed to make sure the medicine is safe and it works. It has the power to halt a clinical trial or fast-track it.

Shielding the identities of clinicians and statisticians on the board is meant to insulate them from pressure by the company sponsoring the trial, government officials or the public, according to multiple

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As Fires and Floods Wreak Havoc on Health, New Climate Center Seeks Solutions

For the past month, record-breaking wildfires have torched millions of acres from the Mexican border well into Canada, their smoke producing air so toxic that millions of people remained indoors for days on end while many visited hospitals because of respiratory distress.

Last week, Hurricane Sally left a trail of watery devastation in Mississippi, Alabama and the Florida Panhandle, even as more storms brewed offshore.

All of that on top of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed nearly 1 million people worldwide.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the opening this month of the Center for Healthy Climate Solutions at UCLA’s Fielding School of Public Health.

Its mission is to work with policymakers and community groups to help safeguard human health against the ravages of climate change. The center was founded on the premise that the long-feared effects of climate change are already here and must be met

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