August 7, 2020 at 5:15 PM EDT
Health officials ramp up effort to convince public that vaccine decisions will be based on science, not politics
Federal health officials, worried about shaky confidence in a possible coronavirus vaccine, launched a public campaign this week to try to reassure Americans that regulators won’t clear any vaccine that isn’t vetted for safety and effectiveness. But President Trump immediately demonstrated the difficulty of divorcing the issue from politics by asserting Thursday that a vaccine might be available “right around” Nov. 3, or Election Day.
Top Food and Drug Administration officials, in published articles and interviews, said they would approve a vaccine only after rigorous review and would consult an outside advisory committee — something that lawmakers and nongovernment scientists have been clamoring for. Agency officials insisted decisions will be based “solely on good science and data.” They got backup from Anthony S. Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious-disease expert, who told Reuters the FDA won’t be swayed by political considerations. He has said a vaccine might be ready by early next year.
But Trump, who has a history of leaning on, and sometimes abusing, government scientists, told Geraldo Rivera on Thursday, “I’m rushing it. I am. I’m pushing everybody.” He said he was focused on saving lives, not on winning the election.
By Laurie McGinley, Yasmeen Abutaleb and Lena H. Sun