White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn he needed to authorize emergency use for Pfizer/BioNTech’s coronavirus vaccine by the end of Friday, and if he didn’t, he should resign, an administration official and a source familiar with the situation told CNN.
Another insider also confirmed news about the White House’s pressure for the vaccine to be authorized by the end of the day on Friday. The source said image-conscious Trump had been venting about the FDA chief since the vaccine was released in the UK earlier this week.
Meadows and Dr. Hahn had a call this morning, but White House officials said they don’t comment on private conversations but assured that the Meadows “regularly requests updates on the progress toward a vaccine.”
Dr. Hahn denied the Washington Post’s report that the conversation contained any ultimatums. However, the news is likely to raise additional questions about how deeply the Trump administration’s political interests are involved with the vaccine authorization process, which could undermine public confidence in the efforts altogether.
“This is an untrue representation of the phone call with the Chief of Staff. The FDA was encouraged to continue working expeditiously on Pfizer-BioNTech’s (emergency use authorization) request,” Dr. Hahn said in a statement this afternoon. “FDA is committed to issuing this authorization quickly, as we noted in our statement this morning,” he said.