Trump rails against the FDA over vaccine testing
President Trump called out the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Saturday, claiming the agency was making it difficult for drug companies to test possible coronavirus vaccines and therapeutics on people.
In a tweet, the president also accused members of the federal agency of slow-walking efforts to test possible vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 until after the November election.
“The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives!” Trump tweeted.
The president tagged FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn in the tweet.
The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives! @SteveFDA
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2020
It was not immediately clear what FDA policies Trump was referring to in his tweet. The agency did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill.
The tweet came after the administration announced this week it will allow coronavirus tests developed by individual laboratories to be used without FDA review, a move that reportedly came after the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) determined the FDA does not have the authority to regulate lab-developed tests for any condition, including COVID-19.
FDA officials reportedly opposed the decision on the grounds that some tests have proven to be faulty, while HHS officials said the FDA’s approval process hampered their ability to develop and promptly release tests.
Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, this week threatened to resign if the agency were to approve a COVID-19 vaccine that’s not proven to be safe and effective. He said, “I could not stand by and see something that was unsafe or ineffective that was being put through.”
“You have to decide where your red line is, and that’s my red line,” he told Reuters. “I would feel obligated [to resign] because in doing so, I would indicate to the American public that there’s something wrong.”
Hahn himself pledged earlier this month that the agency “will not cut corners” as it races to develop a COVID-19 vaccine.
Democrats seized on Trump’s tweet Saturday, with lawmakers suggesting it was the latest in a trend of the president ignoring advice from his scientific advisers.
“The president’s dangerous and unhinged conspiracy theories continue to undermine our doctors and scientists and make it more difficult to respond to the pandemic,” tweeted Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
The president’s dangerous and unhinged conspiracy theories continue to undermine our doctors and scientists and make it more difficult to respond to the pandemic. pic.twitter.com/zdaLrKCu0X
— Michael Bennet (@SenatorBennet) August 22, 2020
Trump has previously expressed skepticism about some advice he’s gotten from people such as Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, and has often given rosier outlooks on the pandemic than his health advisers.