In his latest combination of worry, anger, and conspiracy theory, Donald Trump says the “deep state” is blocking a Coronavirus vaccine until after November’s election.
Frustrated that he is trailing Democratic Presidential nominee Joe Biden in polls and proclaiming a “rigged” ballot, Trump tweeted on Saturday about the supposed plot. Significantly, he aimed the tweet at Food and Drug Administrator Stephen Hahn:
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
Minutes later, Trump again touted the ineffective and dangerous hydroxychloroquine, normally used to treat malaria and lupus, as a wonder cure:
Many doctors and studies disagree with this! https://t.co/fpLVJZMvHS
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2020
Trump tweeted as the US death toll reached 176,362, with 956 fatalities on Saturday. Confirmed cases are 5,668,105, an increase of 44,378.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Government’s top infectious disease expert, told a virtual town hall on Tuesday that he is “cautiously optimistic” that there will be an effective vaccine at the end of 2020 or the start of 2021. He said there could be sufficient doses to cover all Americans by the end of 2021.
But he and Hahn have emphasized that clinical trials must also establish the safety of any vaccine. The FDA Administrator said earlier this month that the agency “will not cut corners” to approve a treatment. He declined to confirm that he was being pushed by Trump and advisors to bring out a vaccine before safety was assured.
I have been asked repeatedly whether there has been any inappropriate pressure on the FDA to make decisions that are not based on good data and good science.
I have repeatedly said that all FDA decisions have been, and will continue to be, based solely on good science and data.
Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said last week that he will resign rather than approve a risky vaccine,
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. I would feel obligated [to resign] because in doing so, I would indicate to the American public that there’s something wrong.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Trump’s tweet was “very scary” and “a very dangerous statement: “Even for him, it went beyond the pale.”
.@SpeakerPelosi described Trump’s comments as “scary” after he suggested, without evidence, that employees at the @US_FDA are attempting to sabotage his re-election campaign by slowing down research on #coronavirus treatments pic.twitter.com/NjCl3IjHnk
— Bloomberg QuickTake (@QuickTake) August 22, 2020
Shouting “Deep State”
Since he became President, Trump and his inner circle have often used the shout of “Deep State” to bury scandals and absolve themselves of responsibility, including the Trump-Russia cooperation in the 2016 election, Trump’s subsequent obstruction, and the Trump-Ukraine affair over the 2020 campaign.
On Wednesday, Trump offered encouragement to the far-right QAnon conspiracy movement, with their portrayal of “liberals” and politicians as Satanist paedophiles.
Trump foreshadowed his Saturday tweet three days earlier, suggesting at his White House apperance that the FDA’s reported hold on emergency use authorization of convalescent plasma was a “political decision”.
He asserted, “Because you have a lot of people over there that don’t want to rush things because they want to do it after November 3rd.”
Hahn and the FDA did not comment yesterday.
But White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany claimed that Hahn and Health Secretary Alex Azar will soon appear with Trump as he proclaims a “breakthrough”.
News conference with President @realDonaldTrump at 6 pm tomorrow concerning a major therapeutic breakthrough on the China Virus. Secretary Azar and Dr. Hahn will be in attendance.
— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) August 23, 2020
“Politics Must Stay Out of Trials”
Drugmakers rejected Trump’s conspiracy theory and emphasized the paramount need for reliable and comprehensive trials.
“Politics must stay out of the conduct and interpretation of clinical trials aimed at evaluating the efficacy and safety of Covid vaccines, as public trust in the results is paramount to ending the pandemic,” said John Maraganore, the chief executive of Alnylam Pharmaceuticals.
Jeremy Levin, chairman of BIO, the biotechnology industry lobbying group, summarized, “Developing those critical medicines depends on the independent rigorous reviews, integrity and scientific and medical capability of the FDA.”
BIO emphasized in a statement that the industry “can only move as fast as the science allows us”.
Former FDA Commissioner Robert Califf noted that “one of the great things” about the FDA is that “decisions are made by full-time civil servants without conflicts”.
It is naive to believe that politics aren’t part of the picture — both Dems and Reps.
But these essential science and public health bases for FDA are essential for our well-being as a nation and for world since FDA is the only agency that does independent analysis of the raw data.