NIH Director Puts Foot Down Over Politically Motivated Approval of Coronavirus Vaccine

Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) acknowledged concerns in the medical community that President Donald Trump might pressure the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to approve a coronavirus vaccine just before the general election to gain votes.

This just cannot be allowed to happen,” he said, adding that FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn has “got a lot of people he’d have to answer to” if he approves a vaccine on shaky evidence.

“Steve Hahn is a scientist. He’s not a politician. He’s a doctor. I can’t imagine him compromising his principles on the basis of political pressure not now and not [in] November,” Collins said.

Collins said he and Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergies and Infectious Diseases, would no doubt raise their questions and concerns, saying they would would “certainly make a big noise about not supporting [the vaccine]” if the FDA were to approve it prematurely, adding that the vaccine cannot be approved “on the basis of anything other than science.”

Earlier this week, Hahn told Dr. Susan Bailey, the president of the American Medical Association, that FDA decisions would be reviewed by the FDA’s Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, a team of outside experts.

“I can promise you that when the data are available, FDA will review them, using its established rigorous and deliberative scientific process,” he said. “We all understand that only by engaging in an open review process and relying on good science and sound data, can the public, and you as providers, have confidence in the integrity of our decisions.”