Trump calls FDA a ‘big, old, slow turtle’ and instructs chief to ‘get the damn vaccine out NOW’

Trump calls FDA a ‘big, old, slow turtle’ and instructs chief to ‘get the damn vaccine out NOW’

The FDA’s vaccine advisory panel voted 17-4 on Thursday to authorize pharma firm Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for use on people aged 16 and over. The FDA usually follows the advice of its panels, and will likely issue the emergency authorization on Saturday, according to a number of media reports.

“FDA staff feel the responsibility to move as quickly as possible,” agency Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn tweeted on Thursday. “However, they know they must…ensure any authorized vaccine meets our rigorous safety and effectiveness standards.”

Another FDA official said on Wednesday that final approval could take “days to a week” after the panel vote.

For President Donald Trump, the wait was unacceptable. He claimed on Friday that he had to push “the money-drenched but heavily bureaucratic” FDA into approving the vaccine so fast, but added that the agency “is still a big, old, slow turtle.”

“Get the dam [sic] vaccines out NOW, Dr. Hahn,” he tweeted. “Stop playing games and start saving lives!!!”

Regardless of how much time passes between the advisory panel’s vote and the FDA’s final approval, the development of Pfizer’s vaccine – and numerous other vaccines produced by US and foreign drugmakers – still took place at unprecedented speed. Usually, before a new vaccine is ever given to people, “extensive lab testing is done that can take several years.” Following these laboratory tests, further clinical studies can take “several more years,”according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Pfizer’s shot, however, was first approved in the UK earlier this month after a development process that took less than a year. Drug firm Moderna has also asked the FDA to approve its vaccine candidate, while across the Atlantic, the British government has pushed its regulatory authorities to approve a vaccine by British-Swedish pharma firm AstraZeneca.

In a separate and uncharacteristically empathic tweet, Trump then declared “I just want to stop the world from killing itself!”

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