FDA Commissioner Pressured to Approve Coronavirus Treatment Before Clinical Trial Data Fully Analyzed
On August 30, 2020, the Washington Post reported that President Trump had pressured the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve new coronavirus vaccines and treatments.
On August 22, 2020, President Trump tweeted that the “deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA” was intentionally slowing work until after November 3 in order to hinder his chance at re-election. In response to this pressure, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn moved to grant emergency authorization for convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 patients. Hahn’s move was criticized by public health experts who claimed that he misrepresented the efficacy of the treatment and pushed for its approval before canonically rigorous statistical analysis could be performed on relevant data from the Mayo Clinic. Hahn’s action was perceived by some as an indication of the FDA having “less and less autonomy” or an exertion of White House political control over scientists and public health experts. Anonymous officials close to the situation told the Washington Post that the credibility of the FDA is being eroded just as they begin to pivot towards discussing early approval for a coronavirus vaccine, which will rely heavily on public trust in the administration.