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Trump threatens to block stricter COVID vaccine standards — declaring ‘tremendous trust’ in big Pharma

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President Donald Trump speaking during a COVID-19 press briefing on September 18, 2020. (Screenshot)

With the Food and Drug Administration reportedly planning to propose stricter guidelines for emergency approval of a coronavirus vaccine, President Donald Trump late Wednesday threatened to block the agency’s push for tougher standards because he trusts for-profit pharmaceutical corporations to conduct adequate safety testing.

“Trump’s White House must not block or water down this guidance and must allow scientists and public health officials, not Trump’s political interests, to guide this vaccine approval process.”
—Eli Zupnick, Accountable Pharma
“I have tremendous trust in these massive companies that are so brilliantly organized in terms of what they’ve been doing with the tests. I don’t know that a government as big as we are could do tests like this,” Trump said during a press briefing, minimizing the central role the federal government has played in coordinating and providing much of the funding for vaccine trials.

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Asked specifically about the FDA’s push for stricter vaccine guidelines, the president declared that any revisions to existing standards “have to be approved by the White House.” The FDA declined to comment when a CNN reporter asked about the president’s remarks.

“We may or may not approve it,” Trump said. “That sounds like a political move, because when you have Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, these great companies coming up with the vaccines and they’ve done testing and everything else, I’m saying why would they have to be, you know, adding great length to the process?”

Watch:


Trump’s decision to publicly undercut the FDA came amid growing concerns among experts and lawmakers that the president is putting public safety at risk by pushing for the speedy approval of a coronavirus vaccine in an effort to boost his reelection chances.

“Everybody wants a vaccine, but we want to make sure that that vaccine is safe,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said earlier this month. “We don’t want to see that vaccine put on the market for political reasons.”

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The New York Times reported Tuesday that the new guidance the FDA is expected to propose as early as this week “would lay out more specific criteria for clinical trial data and recommend that the data be vetted by a committee of independent experts before the FDA authorizes any vaccine. The guidelines would be the most detailed description yet by the federal government about how the vaccine vetting process will proceed.”


In a statement Wednesday, Eli Zupnick, spokesperson for watchdog group Accountable Pharma, warned Trump against meddling with the FDA’s vaccine guidelines, saying the stricter standards would be “an important step in restoring the public trust that Trump has undermined.”

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“Trump and his political appointees have inappropriately pressured, intimidated, and overruled career public health officials too many times already, but the stakes are far too high for that to happen again with this upcoming FDA guidance,” said Zupnick. “Trump’s White House must not block or water down this guidance and must allow scientists and public health officials, not Trump’s political interests, to guide this vaccine approval process.”


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2020 Election

Trump’s attacks on voting ‘backfired and only inspired people to march early to the polls’: report

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Clark County Registrar of Voters Joseph Gloria has had three decades of election experience in Nevada, but had never seen a "perfect storm," as he called it, like this before. With all hands on deck for this election cycle, Gloria helped put together an entire mail-in voting system in less than 90 days to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

“I’m as comfortable as I can be because I have an excellent staff,” Gloria said. “We learned some things in the primary and are feeling good about this cycle, but unfortunately we have people at the national level who are encouraging people to do things that disrupt the polling place and make it a challenge for us to process votes.”

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2020 Election

Watch Kamala Harris laugh out loud when 60 Minutes asks her if Trump is racist

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Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) laughed when asked if President Donald Trump was racist during a 60 Minutes interview that aired Sunday evening on CBS.

"Do you think the president is racist?" Nora O'Donnell asked.

"Yes, I do," Harris replied, with a laugh. "Yeah, I do."

"You can look at a pattern that goes back to him questioning the identity of the first Black president of the United States," she said, referring to the racist "birther" conspiracy theory he pushed against Barack Obama.

"You can look at Charlottesville, when there were peaceful protesters and on the other side neo-Nazis and he talks about fine people on either side," she continued. "Calling Mexicans rapists and criminals? His first order of business was to institute a Muslim ban?"

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2020 Election

Lesley Stahl takes Trump to task for still not having a health care plan as 60 Minutes airs interview

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CBS News' Lesley Stahl took heat from President Donald J. Trump for asking him "tough questions" during their interview for 60 Minutes and the train wreck will air Sunday night in primetime.

But in the meantime, there's this:

Lesley Stahl: But you're okay with some tough questions?

President Donald Trump: No, I'm not. I mean--

Lesley Stahl: (LAUGH) You're not okay with tough questions?

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