FDA chief pushes back on Trump: No ‘deep state’ blocking coronavirus vaccine
Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), is pushing back on President Trump’s suggestion that “deep state” elements in the FDA are deliberately stalling a coronavirus vaccine.
“I have not seen anything that I would consider to be ‘deep state’ at the FDA,” Hahn told Reuters on Monday.
At the same time, Hahn said his working relationship with Trump remains good, including in the area of vaccine development.
“I enjoy a very good relationship with the president and I have discussed our decisions with him, and I feel very comfortable and continue to feel comfortable with that relationship,” Hahn told the news service.
The president tagged Hahn in the tweet on Saturday that read: “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.”
In the same interview with Reuters, Hahn denied any political considerations factored into the FDA authorizing the use of convalescent plasma from recovered patients as a coronavirus treatment, which Trump announced Sunday evening.
Hahn did, however, concede that Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious diseases expert, as well as National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins, had questioned whether the data was sufficient to authorize the treatment.
“Previously when we did have a discussion with them, they were concerned that the data might not be robust enough. That’s why we did the validation … to provide further confirmation,” Hahn said.
Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, has said he will quit his job rather than go along with approving a vaccine that has not been proven effective and safe.
While Hahn said he himself would not “speculate about what I would do” in such a scenario, “what I can tell you is that I will not participate in a decision at FDA that’s made upon anything other than data and science. That I can assure you.”
“We want to be as sure as we possibly can regarding safety and efficacy,” he added.
The Hill has removed its comment section, as there are many other forums for readers to participate in the conversation. We invite you to join the discussion on Facebook and Twitter.