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FDA chief says he has 'no intention' of overruling career staff on coronavirus vaccine decision


FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn testifies before the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington DC on June 30, 2020 in Washington,DC.

Kevin Dietsch | AFP | Getty Images

The head of the Food and Drug Administration on Thursday said he has “no intention” of overruling career scientists at the agency on an approval of a coronavirus vaccine even though he has the authority.

FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said any vaccine data released will be discussed publicly by an advisory committee of outside experts and Peter Marks, who runs the FDA division that oversees vaccine approval, will ultimately make a recommendation. 

“I will be briefed as commissioner all along about this. I will have the opportunity to see the data,” Hahn said during a virtual Q&A with the Economic Club. “I can tell you throughout this pandemic, throughout my tenure as commissioner, I have not reversed a decision by the career scientists on medical products. And I have no intention of doing that now.” 

Hahn’s remarks come as infectious disease experts and scientists in recent weeks have said they have concerns that President Donald Trump is pressuring the FDA to approve a vaccine before it’s been adequately tested. Hahn, insisting the FDA wasn’t being pressured by Trump to fast-track a vaccine, told the Financial Times last month the agency is prepared to bypass the full federal approval process in order to make a Covid-19 vaccine available as soon as possible.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.


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