Without evidence, Trump accuses FDA of delaying vaccine trials until after election

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US President Donald Trump on Saturday accused, without providing any evidence, the United States Food and Drug Administration of deliberately delaying coronavirus vaccine trials, putting pressure on the man he had chosen to lead the ‘agency.

“The deep state, or whoever, at the FDA, makes it very difficult for drug companies to get people to test vaccines and therapies,” Trump tweeted, continuing to push his unsubstantiated theory that there are has a “deep state”. integrated into the government bureaucracy working against his re-election.

He accused the agency of delaying a vaccine against the virus until after the fall election, tweeting: “Obviously they are hoping to delay the response after November 3. You have to focus on speed and save lives! Trump ended his tweet by tagging the Twitter account of FDA commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, who he appointed last year to take on the role.

Hahn assured Americans earlier this month that the agency “won’t cut corners” to approve a vaccine.

CNN has contacted the FDA for comment.

House of Commons Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Saturday called Trump’s tweet a “very frightening” and a “very dangerous statement”, saying that “even for him it went beyond the pale.”

“The FDA has a responsibility to approve drugs, judging by their safety and effectiveness, not by a White House statement on the speed and politicization of the FDA,” Pelosi told reporters on Capitol Hill.

The Biotechnology Innovation Organization said on Saturday that the industry is “eager” to deliver a vaccine as quickly as possible, but that it can “only move forward if science allows.”

“We are confident that everyone is going as fast as possible to ensure that any vaccine or new therapy is both safe and effective for patients,” said Rich Masters, a spokesperson for the biotech lobby group, in a press release.

Trump has promised a vaccine will be available by the end of the year, although vaccinologists have told CNN the timeline is unrealistic. And his latest comments won’t allay the fears of some experts and Americans that the administration will rush to prepare a vaccine at the expense of science and safety.

A CNN poll in May found that a third of Americans said they would not try to get vaccinated against COVID-19, even though the vaccine is widely available and inexpensive.

The FDA doesn’t conduct the trials itself, but rather oversees the people who do, according to the agency. As CNN previously reported, a vaccine candidate, developed by Moderna and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, moved into Phase 3 clinical trials late last month.

Trump, throughout the pandemic, has undermined or rejected advice from government health experts, including FDA officials.

Trump has promoted the antimalarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine as Covid-19 treatment, even as the FDA has warned the public that the drugs should only be used in hospitals or clinical trials because they can kill or cause serious side effects . in June, the agency revoked its emergency use authorization for hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of coronavirus, saying the drugs would likely not be effective in treating the virus based on the latest scientific evidence.

After the FDA reportedly suspended its emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma, the president also suggested on Wednesday that it could have been a “political decision.”

“Because there are a lot of people out there who don’t want to rush it because they want to do it after November 3,” Trump said.

Former FDA Commissioner Robert Califf, who ran the agency from February 2016 to January 2017, said in a series of tweets on Saturday that “one of the great things” about the agency is that ” decisions are made by full-time civil servants without conflicts ”. It is the job of the FDA commissioner, he said, to “protect this critical independence” from this judgment.

“It’s naive to believe that politics is not part of the picture – both the Dems and the Reps,” he continued. “But these essential science and public health foundations for the FDA are essential for our well-being as a nation and for the world since the FDA is the only agency that performs independent analysis of raw data. ”

The president is no stranger to publicly questioning the medical advice of senior health officials in his administration or targeting them on Twitter.

Although he says he has a good relationship with the country’s top infectious disease specialist, Dr Anthony Fauci, Trump called Fauci “a little alarmist,” retweeted a post calling Fauci a “fraud” and the White House appeared to make a concerted effort to discredit Fauci at the start of the pandemic.

Trump also slammed Dr Deborah Birx earlier this month after the White House Coronavirus Task Force coordinator warned the pandemic was “extraordinarily widespread” in the United States.

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