PHOTO PHOTO: US President Donald Trump arrives to speak at the 2020 National Policy Council in Arlington, Virginia, US, August 21, 2020. REUTERS / Tom Brenner
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump on Saturday accused members of the “deep state” at the Food and Drug Administration, without providing evidence, of working on slow testing of COVID-19 vaccines until after the November presidential election.
In a Twitter post, Trump said the deep state “as who” at the FDA made it very difficult for drug companies to enroll people in clinical trials to test vaccines and therapies for the new coronavirus.
The remark came after Reuters on Thursday exclusively reported that a top FDA official said he would resign if the Trump administration approved a vaccine before it was shown safely and effectively.
‘Of course, they hope to delay the response until after November 3. Must focus on speed, and saving lives! Trump wrote, at the same time FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn tagged in the tweet.
Trump often uses Twitter to criticize critical federal agencies, and sometimes accuses them of being controlled by the “deep state” in an apparent reference to long-serving personnel who, in Trump’s eyes, intend to undermine his agenda.
His tweet exacerbates pressure on the FDA after Peter Marks, director of its Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said last week at a conference call with government officials, pharmaceutical executives and academics that he would resign if the agency stamped an unproven vaccine.
Scientists, public health officials and lawmakers are worried that the Trump administration will pressure the FDA to approve a vaccine well before the vote, even if data from clinical trials do not support widespread use.
Marks, whose division regulates biotech treatments, vaccines and gene therapies, told Reuters he had no political pressure and that the FDA would be led by science alone. Should that change, he said on Thursday, “I would feel obligated (to resign), because if I did, I would tell the American public that something is wrong.”
Report by Linda So; Edited by Daniel Wallis