President Donald Trump on Wednesday publicly called on the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track approvals of coronavirus vaccines after a fourth American drug company’s COVID-19 vaccine entered the final clinical trials stage. The call came just one day after the U.S. saw its 200,000 coronavirus death.
“Big news,” Trump tweeted. “Numerous great companies are seeing fantastic results. @FDA must move quickly!”
Trump then retweeted other tweets praising the Johnson & Johnson drug trial.
Many see Trump’s actions as inappropriate pressure on what is supposed to be an independent, non-partisan federal agency, and some see them as dangerous.
A Washington Post reporter noted the FDA on Tuesday said it was raising the bar on coronavirus vaccine approvals.
WaPo yesterday: “FDA poised to announce tougher standards for a covid-19 vaccine that make it unlikely one will be cleared by Election Day”https://t.co/2FfzadGUhe
Trump today: “FDA must move quickly!” https://t.co/vlt6JdwNjY
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) September 23, 2020
But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday issued a draconian order hamstringing the FDA and requiring all moves to be approved by him.
Here’s former Obama Under Secretary of State Richard Stengel, issuing a warning:
The meaning of this ‘power grab’ is not murky but clear. At Trump’s behest, Azar will over-rule FDA scientists to approve emergency use of a vaccine before the election even if it’s unsafe, risking even more lives for one goal: Trump’s re-election. #VOTE https://t.co/4ij6DmrYqm
— Richard Stengel (@stengel) September 21, 2020
Spain becomes first EU nation with one million virus cases
Spain has become the first European Union nation to surpass a million coronavirus infections, official data showed Wednesday, as the government mulls fresh restrictions on public life to curb the spread of the disease.
The country recorded 16,973 confirmed cases of Covid-19 over the past 24 hours, the health ministry announced Wednesday, taking the total to 1,005,295 since its first case was diagnosed on January 31 on the remote island of La Gomera in the Canary Islands.
Of this number, 34,366 people have died, after 156 more deaths were recorded in the previous 24 hours.
Spain, which is home to around 47 million people, is only the sixth country in the world to cross this grim milestone after the United States, India, Brazil, Russia and Argentina, according to an AFP tally based on official figures.
‘Vote these monsters out’: Trump officials weigh deep funding cuts to COVID-19 relief, newborn screenings in Democratic-led cities
Documents obtained by Politico reveal that the Trump White House is weighing millions of dollars in federal funding cuts to Covid-19 relief, newborn screenings, and other crucial healthcare programs in Democrat-led cities, a move critics decried as politically motivated "retribution" that could have a devastating impact on poor and sick Americans amid the ongoing pandemic.
Politico reported late Tuesday that the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has "identified federal grants covering... nearly 200 health programs that could be in line for cuts as part of a sweeping government-wide directive the administration is advancing during the final weeks of the presidential campaign and amid an intensifying pandemic Trump has downplayed."
Paul McCartney to release new lockdown album
British pop legend Paul McCartney revealed Wednesday he will release the third in a trilogy of self-titled solo albums this year, after resurrecting unfinished music during the coronavirus lockdown.
The former Beatle's latest record "McCartney III", which will be unveiled on December 11, follows months of work at his home studio in Sussex in southern England on previously started and new songs.
It has all been written, produced and performed by McCartney, who said he hadn't been planning to release an album in 2020 until the pandemic forced him to stay at home for months.
"I had some stuff I'd worked on over the years but sometimes time would run out and it would be left half-finished so I started thinking about what I had," McCartney said, in comments published by Britain's Press Association news agency.