Moncef Slaoui Warns WH Threats to FDA Erode Vaccine Trust

The chief scientific adviser of Operation Warp Speed,  Moncel Slaoui , expressed alarm at the prospect of President  Donald Trump  exerti...

The chief scientific adviser of Operation Warp Speed, Moncel Slaoui, expressed alarm at the prospect of President Donald Trump exerting last-minute pressure to rush the FDA approval of the Pfizer Covid-19 vaccine, warning that it could undermine public confidence in its safety.

On Friday, news reports revealed that the Trump White House had issued a blunt ultimatum to FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn: approve the vaccine by the end of the day or step down. That threat came just one day after the FDA’s Advisory Committee voted in favor of issuing an emergency use authorization for the Pfizer vaccine. As a result, the FDA’s final approval was already expected to come in the subsequent 24 to 48 hours,

Speaking on CNN’s The Lead with Jake TapperSlaoui reacted with obvious alarm at the news of Trump’s undue pressure.

“I don’t want to put you in the position where you have to respond to a phone call between Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, and Dr. Stephen Hahn from the FDA. You weren’t there, and I don’t want to put you in an awkward position,” host Jake Tapper said. “But I want to ask this simple question. Are you concerned that this story that the White house is pressuring the FDA could undermine confidence in a vaccine that you feel very positive about?”

“Yes, I think there is an opportunity there for people to see undue pressure if the story is right,” Slaoui admitted.

“I just heard before this that Dr. Hahn said that it wasn’t a true reproduction of what happened,” he added. “I can say because I watched all of the events yesterday is that it was an outstanding set of discussion, presentations by the FDA, presentation by Pfizer, the discussion that the advisory committee had. They really honed on very important questions around the age, also around potentially the people that have very severe allergies and the whole country could, for the whole day, see that this was an effective, transparent, thorough, in-depth review. And now the FDA clearly is in the very last steps of approving. They may approve today or tomorrow, they will approve when they approve.  I don’t see the reason for any pressure, if that has happened.”

Trump’s last-minute, political pressure on the approval process could prove to be counterproductive and unravel some of the growing trust over the past few months about the vaccine. Last week, for example, a Quinnipiac poll found that public intent to get vaccinated had jumped greatly since this past summer, when a majority of Americans said they would not trust a vaccine produced under the Trump administration. Now, 61% of the public said they would get inoculated and a similar 65% said they currently had confidence in the federal government ability to oversee the manufacturing and distribution of a vaccine.

Watch the video above, via CNN.

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Newsrust: Moncef Slaoui Warns WH Threats to FDA Erode Vaccine Trust
Moncef Slaoui Warns WH Threats to FDA Erode Vaccine Trust
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