WASHINGTON, September 10 (Sputnik) - The US Food and Drug Administration will deliver a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine to Americans and not rush one under any influence outside of science, Commissioner Steven Hanh said on Thursday.
Many Democrats have accused President Donald Trump of trying to fast-track the vaccine approval process in order to get one delivered ahead of the November reelection. Trump's Democratic rival Joe Biden has recently urged the regulator agency to maintain transparency and independence.
"We want to be flexible and we want to be responsive, but we will not cut corners. We will follow our rigorous procedures to assess," Hanh said during an interview with the Economic Club of Washington. "I think everybody in America wants a vaccine as quickly as possible but we also want a very effective vaccine, but we also want a vaccine that's safe."
The quest for a workable COVID-19 vaccine has become a politically-charged issue in the United States, with Trump dropping broad hints that there will be one approved before the November 3 presidential election. The president's Democrat rivals have, however, accused him of pressuring relevant agencies such as the FDA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to cut important corners to get a vaccine out quickly to boost his chance of getting reelected.
The COVID-19 has infected more than six million Americans and killed over 190,000 of them, and Trump’s response to the pandemic has become a key issue in the election. His administration is currently working with six trial vaccines for the coronavirus and three have entered the key Phase 3 trial of public testing.
Two other leading US scientists - National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci and National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins - have said there is no certainty that authorities will be able to approve a COVID-19 vaccine in time for the election.
Hahn said the FDA had to consider the risk-benefit ratio in accelerating any medicines to the market, particularly during a pandemic.
"We find ourselves in the position that we're accused of either going too fast or too slow or doing too little or too much. I suppose… if we hear criticism from both sides, then we're probably in the right place."
He added, however, that he had "complete and absolute confidence in the scientists at FDA" and their decision-making.