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Siding with Big Pharma, Trump overrules FDA on stricter COVID-19 vaccine standards

Taking the advice of profit-driven pharmaceutical corporations over that of his own public health agencies and experts, President Donald Trump is blocking the Food and Drug Administration from imposing tougher safety requirements on the authorization of a coronavirus vaccine after drug company executives privately voiced disapproval with the push for stricter federal standards.

Politico reported late Monday that the White House’s “decision to halt release of new standards for emergency authorization of a Covid-19 vaccine came after officials close to [Trump] told the FDA that the pharmaceutical industry had objected to the tougher requirements.”

“The White House cited the private-sector opposition as a chief reason for blocking the guidelines, which aim to hold companies’ vaccines to a higher bar for safety and effectiveness and would likely push any authorization beyond Election Day,” according to Politico. “The fact that the president was siding with drug makers over his own regulators in shelving the guidance… adds a new dimension to concerns about White House interference in the FDA.”

Trump’s stonewalling of more stringent federal standards comes amid widespread concerns that the president’s politically motivated push for approval of a coronavirus vaccine before November 3 could result in a product that is insufficiently tested and unsafe. Late Monday, shortly after his release from Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, the president declared that “vaccines are coming momentarily”—a timeline scientists have rejected.

During the presidential debate last week with Democratic nominee Joe Biden, Trump dismissed more cautious vaccine timelines suggested by experts in his own administration as “very political” and said pharmaceutical executives have personally told him that “they can go faster than that by a lot.”

“I’ve spoken to Pfizer, I’ve spoken to all of the people that you have to speak to, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and others,” the president said.

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