WW presents "Distant Voices," a daily video interview for the era of social distancing. Our reporters are asking Portlanders what they're doing during quarantine.
On Dec. 4, the Oregon Health Authority requested 15,600 doses of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government. It's the job of two doctors to assure Oregonians the shots are safe.
Dr. Louis Picker is one of them. He's an Oregon Health & Science University professor who has worked on an HIV vaccine. Gov. Kate Brown appointed him last week to review safety data for any COVID-19 vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
When asked if he'd get the vaccine if he were a frontline health care worker, Picker didn't hesitate. In fact, he didn't let the reporter finish the question.
"Absolutely. I'd put my arm out right now—I mean, if it's approved, and I expect it will be," he said.
Picker joins a panel of experts from four Western states—California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington—who are looking to provide another level of assurance to the public in a politically tumultuous moment.
As WW reported in this week's print edition, along with an excerpt of Picker's interview, the vaccine is inextricably linked to election-year partisan politics. President Donald Trump pledged a COVID vaccine would arrive before Election Day thanks to "Operation Warp Speed." It didn't, and he lost. But people on both sides of the aisle still view the vaccine with greater skepticism. And the panel of experts will review the approvals provided by the Trump administration.
WW asked Picker why we should trust him—and the vaccine.