Trump to Announce 'Major Therapeutic Breakthrough' on COVID-19
Comes after president accused 'deep state' of holding up 'China Virus' vaccine
President Donald Trump is set to announce a "major therapeutic breakthrough on the China Virus," White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has revealed.
McEnany announced that the president will hold a press conference at 6 pm on Sunday to reveal the news.
US Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Food and Drug Administration head Stephen Hahn would be attending the news conference, McEnany tweeted late Saturday night.
The press secretary's tweet did not reveal what the breakthrough might be.
She did, however, confirm that it is regarding treatment for the "China Virus."
The announcement follows accusations from Trump that the "deep state" or people "over at the FDA" are attempting to delay the COVID-19 until after the election.
"The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics," Trump tweeted.
"Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd.
"Must focus on speed, and saving lives!"
Trump tagged FDA Hahn in the tweet.
The deep state, or whoever, over at the FDA is making it very difficult for drug companies to get people in order to test the vaccines and therapeutics. Obviously, they are hoping to delay the answer until after November 3rd. Must focus on speed, and saving lives! @SteveFDA— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2020
Trump has been touting the use of anti-malarial drugs hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for the treatment of coronavirus.
The FDA revoked its authorization of the emergency use of the two drugs to treat coronavirus patients on June 15, citing the fact that clinical trials showed the drugs had "no benefit for decreasing the likelihood of death or speeding recovery."
On Saturday, Trump dredged up a tweet about the FDA revoking the authorization from two and a half weeks ago and wrote: "Many doctors and studies disagree with this!"
Many doctors and studies disagree with this! https://t.co/fpLVJZMvHS— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 22, 2020
On Thursday, Hahn had said that he could not speculate on when the FDA might approve a coronavirus vaccine but said that the process was moving quickly.
"That’s not because anyone has been cutting corners," Hahn told Gray DC.
"It’s because it’s taken a concerted effort and we haven’t done things in sequence, we’ve done things in parallel."
Despite Trump saying that he wanted the vaccine to be ready by early November, Hahn said that: "The only facts FDA will look at with respect to a vaccine when the data come to us is those data and science and the medicine."
He added that "I’ve had absolutely no pressure from anyone."
Earlier this week, a top FDA official who will help decide the fate of a coronavirus vaccine has vowed to resign if the Trump administration approves a vaccine before it is shown to be safe and effective.
Peter Marks, director of the FDA's Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said that he would resign if the Trump administration approved a vaccine before it was shown to be safe and effective.
Like Hahn, Marks said he has not faced any political pressure and that the FDA would be guided by science alone.
"I could not stand by and see something that was unsafe or ineffective that was being put through," he told Reuters.
"You have to decide where your red line is, and that's my red line.
"I would feel obligated [to resign] because in doing so, I would indicate to the American public that there's something wrong."
He added that he would equally object if someone sought political gain by holding up approval of a vaccine that was shown to work, and that was safe.
News conference with President @realDonaldTrump at 6 pm tomorrow concerning a major therapeutic breakthrough on the China Virus. Secretary Azar and Dr. Hahn will be in attendance.— Kayleigh McEnany (@PressSec) August 23, 2020
Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services, which oversees FDA and NIH, said the government aims to identify a safe and effective vaccine by January 2021.
Speculation about the FDA approving a vaccine under political pressure "only undermines confidence in the public health system," Caputo said in a statement.
"I've never met one FDA regulator who wouldn't resign over improper pressure, and that's how America knows their seal of approval is the gold standard."
The pandemic has killed more than 173,000 Americans and infected over 5.5 million.
The race to produce a vaccine has become the centerpiece of the Trump administration's response.
In a statement on Thursday, FDA Commissioner Hahn said that under Marks' leadership, the agency's scientists are monitoring the COVID-19 vaccine trials, "the data from which will be the deciding factor for any FDA approval."
Anthony Fauci, the nation's leading infectious disease expert, has also said publicly that political considerations will not influence any decision on a coronavirus vaccine.
Large-scale clinical trials of the leading vaccine candidates from Moderna, Pfizer, and AstraZeneca were launched in recent weeks.
The FDA has scheduled a meeting of its advisory committee of outside experts on coronavirus vaccines on October 22.
Marks said the trials were enrolling volunteers "reasonably well" and that it was "possible" data could be available to interpret as early as October.
If not, the committee could still discuss broader regulatory issues regarding a vaccine, he said.