Dr. Hussain Malbari has had a unique vantage point throughout the pandemic with one foot in the hospital and the other in the research clinic. Read the question and answer series below to learn his thoughts on the pandemic and the latest vaccine.
“What have we learned in the process?”
We have learned that the goodwill of people tends to shine brightest at the darkest times – we had an unrivaled number of volunteers during the COVID-19 vaccine trials. This pandemic hit us on a global scale and affected nearly all aspects of our lives and I believe that everyone wants to get things back to a new normal absent of fear of a life threatening infection.
“It seems that the public profile of clinical research has been elevated lately. But, should the value of research be predicated solely on the vaccines that were approved for emergency use?”
Clinical research has definitely been brought into the spotlight. Clinical research continues to create an avenue for medications to make it to market approval in a safe, controlled, and proven manner. This happens mostly in the background and most people aren’t aware of this critical process. It will continue to be an invaluable industry, not only because of the emergency use approval, but because of the ability to mobilize an entire industry dedicated to making sure medications get approved and are safe for use.
“Is there room for innovation with COVID vaccines or should our efforts now shift solely to manufacturing and distribution of approved vaccines?”
I think the industry allows for both – there should be efforts dedicated to widespread manufacturing and distribution of approved vaccines, but we should not underestimate the value of innovation – because that is what has developed the novel mRNA vaccines that we currently have. Innovation will continue to provide us with new ways to fight diseases both now and in the future and we should continue to find ways to improve on things that already work.
“Do you think your involvement in research has influenced the way you practice medicine?”
Absolutely, it makes me conscious of the fact that every medication I prescribe is the result of thousands of volunteers helping to make sure it’s safe. The safety information that exists for medications comes from the hard work of clinical research staff that helped obtain and capture all the data necessary to report this. It gives me a certain level of respect for the luxury I have in prescribing the medications that I do on a daily basis. For the COVID vaccines, I can speak from a firsthand account when patients ask me about their safety as I’m fortunate to be involved in the trials themselves.