Nine global biopharmaceutical corporations pledged Tuesday to conduct safe development, testing, global regulatory filings and approvals of potential vaccines for the novel coronavirus.

Company heads said in a joint statement they are committed “to uphold the integrity of the scientific process as they work towards potential global regulatory filings and approvals of the first COVID-19 vaccines,” and they would develop and test potential vaccines in accordance with “high ethical standards and sound scientific principles.”

“We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which COVID-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be approved,” they added in a joint statement.

The companies include GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, BioNTech, Sanofi, Moderna, Novavax, Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, and Merck, known as MSD outside of the US and Canada.

While the firms have collectively developed more than 70 vaccines against diseases globally, the race for a COVID-19 vaccine is at full pace.

Apart from western nations, Russia approved a vaccine in August despite western experts voicing concerns about lack of adequate testing.

In China, Sinovac Biotech announced Sunday 90% of its employees and their families have taken an experimental vaccine.

In the US, the worst-hit country by the virus, Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Chief Stephen Hahn said Aug. 30 he could consider fast tracking a vaccine before conclusion of its Phase III trials.

Hahn’s comments came a week after the FDA approved emergency use of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 patients in hospitals, despite worries by health officials.

Hahn said it would not be a “political decision” to rush a vaccine, but US President Donald Trump accused the FDA of trying to hurt him in the looming 2020 presidential elections by acting slowly in virus treatment and the vaccine development process.

The Trump administration has implemented Operation Warp Speed in hopes of getting and delivering millions of doses of a vaccine by the end of 2020.

In July, it agreed to pay Pfizer and BioNTech $1.95 billion for 100 million doses of their vaccine if it proves “safe and effective,” while it announced a $1.6 billion agreement with Novavax to manufacture and deliver 100 million doses by January 2021.

The US has more than 6.3 million cases and more than 189,000 deaths from COVID-19, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

Globally, figures are 27.3 million infections and more than 893,000 deaths.

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