NHF’s Dr. Leonard Valentino Addresses COVID-19, Vaccines and Collaborative Progress

You have been reaching out to us with your questions and concerns about the COVID-19 vaccines and we are grateful that you trust us to give you accurate and unbiased information. We are in communication with experts to ensure that the information we give to people with inheritable blood disorders is accurate and based on the evidence.

For more than the past year you have seen the faces and heard the words of Drs Anthony Fauci and Ashish Jha on the national news and Sunday morning news shows explaining the scientific intricacies of the pandemic and the vaccines to combat the spread of COVID-19. One person who has been more “behind the scenes” but certainly no less important is Dr. Francis Collins, the current Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Collins is also Dr. Fauci’s boss. Before being appointed director of the NIH in 2009, Dr. Collins led the Human Genome Project and other genomics research initiatives as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute, part of the NIH. He is remarkable in that he is the only Presidentially appointed NIH Director to serve more than one administration, having served in his role since his appointment by President Obama in 2009.

You may ask what is Dr. Collins saying about the COVID vaccines? Well, in a recent interview broadcast on the Bobby Bones Show (iHeart Radio), he shared his views on the vaccines and on some of the myths about the vaccines.

First, he told listeners that there are not many differences in the three vaccines. They are all effective and safe, and all been tested in trials of more than 30,000 people each.

Second, they are all highly effective and people should just take whichever vaccine gets offered to them first.

Next, Dr. Collins refuted several common myths about the vaccines. They don’t cause COVID-19 because the vaccines don’t have the virus in them. The vaccine does not cause infertility and there aren’t medical chips in them either.

Okay, so you ask, why should I trust Dr. Collins? Good question and here is a good answer. Dr. Collins’ research laboratory has discovered many important genes, including those responsible for cystic fibrosis, neurofibromatosis, Huntington’s disease, a familial endocrine cancer syndrome, and most recently, genes for type 2 diabetes, and the gene that causes Hutchinson-Gilford progeria syndrome, a rare condition that causes premature aging. What’s more, Dr. Collins led the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA map. He has been responsible, directly and indirectly, for many of the advances we appreciate in the blood disorders community including our ability to identify the genetic mutations that cause hemophilia A and B. The inherited blood disorder community has witnessed significant advances in recent years, yet important gaps persist, particularly for those with rare disorders and those in underserved populations. Through advanced genetic techniques Dr. Collins played a role in developing, we have new medicines available today for people in our community and gene therapy and gene editing are coming closer for patients with serious blood disorders.

NHF is developing a new initiative shaped by the voices of the patient community which aims to accelerate progress by developing a collaborative roadmap. The State of Science’s goal is to design and implement a national research blueprint patient-centric principles to address the priorities voiced by the community. You will hear more about our efforts to develop a national research blueprint based on your input next month.

Source: National Hemophilia Foundation

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