FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn Will Not Confirm Trump’s Vaccine Schedule Promises

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Despite claims by President Donald Trump that a COVID-19 “solution” would likely be available “well before the end of the year,” said a member of the White House coronavirus task force, which heads the agency responsible for approving a vaccine. to offer a timetable for its final development.

“I can’t predict when a vaccine will be available,” said Dr. Stephen Hahn, commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration on Sunday at ABC “This Week,” adding: “Yes, we are witnessing unprecedented speed for development. of a vaccine. But … Our solemn promise to the American people is that we will make a decision based on the data and science of a vaccine, regarding the safety and efficacy of this vaccine. ”

In a speech on July 4 in Washington on Saturday, Trump gave a more optimistic tone, both about the speed of research and development of antiviral treatments and the impact that COVID-19 has on people who test positive .

“We are launching the scientific brilliance of our nation and we will likely have a therapeutic and / or vaccine solution well before the end of the year,” said Trump, after touting the nation’s testing efforts and asserting, without evidence. , that “99%” of coronavirus cases “are completely harmless. ”

Hahn was challenged on the latter claim by “This Week” co-host Martha Raddatz, but refused to join the president in her description.

“We have over 129,000 deaths and over 2.8 million cases, how many cases would you say are harmless? Raddatz asked.

“What I would say is that we do not want to have it in this country anyway,” said the commissioner. “Any death, any case is tragic, and we want to do everything we can to prevent it. ”

Hahn, a trained radiation oncologist and medical oncologist who became an FDA commissioner in December 2019, said Thursday that he was “cautiously optimistic” about current efforts to develop a coronavirus vaccine, indicating “the end of next year or early next year “as potential completion dates.

A certain reluctance on the part of Americans to be vaccinated against the coronavirus does not make it possible to know to what extent a vaccine would do to stop the continuous spread of the pandemic. In June, an ABC News poll found that 27% of adults said they would “definitely” or “probably” not get a vaccine – a figure Raddatz asked Hahn on Sunday.

“It is a considerable number and it is worrying and, of course, the issue of vaccines in this country has been around for a number of years,” he said, while explaining that the FDA was focusing on “Safety” and “efficiency”. “Of a vaccine. “I want to assure the American people and give confidence that we are at work. ”

In the United States, COVID-19 cases continued to escalate over the past week, with large states like Arizona, Florida and Texas struggling to contain the recent outbreaks.

Local leaders from each of these states also appeared Sunday “This week,” and detailed some of the challenges their communities face as cases increase and hospitals are overwhelmed.

“What we find is that wishful thinking is neither good economic policy nor good public health policy,” said Judge Lina Hidalgo, who is executive director of Harris County, Texas – the county the most populous state, which includes the city of Houston.

Hidalgo lamented that she was deprived of the state government’s ability to issue a home stay order earlier this year, and criticized Governor Greg Abbott’s delay in instituting facial mask requirements .

“As long as we do the least possible and hope for the best, we will always run after this thing,” said Hidalgo. “We will always be late. ”

Mayors Kate Gallego and Francis Suarez of Phoenix and Miami shared similar sentiments and linked reopening efforts to the increase in cases in their regions.

“There is no doubt that … when we reopened, people started to socialize, as if the virus did not exist,” said Suarez.

“We opened far too early in Arizona,” said Gallego. “We were one of the last states to stay at home and one of the first to reappear… I try to push the people you need to stay at home, and that events with more than 10 people are dangerous. ”

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