White House to FDA: Approve Pfizer Vaccine Or Else

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Oh great. This should help make everyone more confident that the Pfizer vaccine isn’t being rushed through due to political pressure:

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Friday told Stephen Hahn, the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, to submit his resignation if the agency does not clear the nation’s first coronavirus vaccine by day’s end, according to people familiar with the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss what happened.

First of all, this accomplishes nothing. The FDA was apparently planning to finish the authorization by Saturday morning, so this speeds things up by only a few hours or so. Second, everyone knows that Donald Trump is pushing this because he’s convinced that Deep State agents in the FDA and the CDC deliberately slow-walked emergency approval until after the election so he wouldn’t get credit for it. Third, when all is said and done, US authorization will be a grand total of ten days behind Britain’s and ahead of practically everyone else. This is really not overwhelming evidence of slow work from American agencies.

On the other hand, it makes Trump look like a tough guy, even though he obviously waited to do anything until there was really nothing left to do. It’s a completely empty threat, and it comes after months of practically ignoring the COVID-19 pandemic at the federal level.

Is there a price to pay for this? Probably. Public confidence in the vaccine is important, and it’s already been shaken a bit by the report of allergic reactions in Britain. The best way to keep confidence high is to keep politicians out of it and let professionals do their job. The last thing we should do is give people who are already skeptical even more reason to wonder if the vaccine is being forced on them by glory-hound politicos.

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FACT:

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Today, reader support makes up about two-thirds of our budget, allows us to dig deep on stories that matter, and lets us keep our reporting free for everyone. If you value what you get from Mother Jones, please join us with a tax-deductible donation today so we can keep on doing the type of journalism 2021 demands.

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