Has Trump damaged the FDA beyond repair?

I’ve been keeping an eye on polls asking people if they’re going to get a COVID-19 vaccine. Some polls say the majority are going to get vaccinated, but others say the majority of those polled are not going to get vaccinated. It all comes down to trust in the FDA, which has been damaged severely by an anti-science failed leader.

My local paper, here in Florida, posted a Facebook poll asking people if they will get vaccinated against COVID-19. Six thousand people voted, and over 60% said “no.” The biggest reason seems to be the lack of trust that the vaccine is “safe and effective.”

On Friday, the Washington Post posted, on their front page, that a member of the Trump Administration told the FDA’s head to approve the vaccine that day or else he would be looking for a new job.

Pfizer had nothing to do with operation “war speed.” They developed the vaccine because there is a huge opportunity to protect people from this horrible virus and because there is a lot of money to be made. As soon as approval was imminent, I knew that the media would jump on stories of people who had adverse reactions even though they are a tiny percentage of the patient population.

As I started to read comments, in the various media outlets, about the vaccine, it immediately became clear that people don’t trust it and don’t believe the FDA’s approval. This is serious and is extremely damaging. Unless we get this virus under control, businesses will suffer, but, more importantly, people will suffer. At first, people delayed medical care for fear of catching Covid. But as the pandemic caused staggering unemployment, medical care has become unaffordable for many.

According to STAT News “cancer, clinical trials have seen a drastic drop in patient enrollment since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, driven in part by some institutions pausing recruitment to prevent the spread of the virus”. This could end up having a lasting and deep effect on us all.

Dr Susan Baily, the head of the AMA recently wrote “as much as we are all eager to see an end to the COVID-19 pandemic, we need to be reassured that the appropriate safeguards are in place despite the accelerated timeline for a COVID vaccine. We also know that you have many questions, and perhaps a few concerns, about the vaccine approval process”.

The NEJM said it best “without a clear, transparent, and scientifically sound decision-making process, the trust the FDA has built and maintained over the past century is eroding. As potential therapies for Covid-19 come before the FDA for consideration, only an open, rigorous scientific process that relies on high-quality data can assure clinicians and patients that the new approaches are safe and effective. Such a process will be particularly important as the FDA considers emerging candidate SARS-CoV-2 vaccines”.

President-Elect Biden is going to have to work with his cabinet very hard to earn back the trust of an FDA that has been compromised. The stakes are too high. If we don’t get control of this horrible virus it will decimate our country.

As for Trump, I personally feel that he should be held accountable for his bullshit that may have cost so many lives. I’m sure there will be many scientific studies in the future about the damage he has done and the lives he has cost us.

The AMA, all physicians, insurers, and healthcare companies need to push people to get vaccinated as the death toll climbs. No company can be neutral in this debate.