A new administration in the White House may have to quickly rebuild public trust in the Food and Drug Administration as the Trump administration politicizes the agency in a bid to get a COVID-19 vaccine out before the November election.
Restoring that trust would be vital in getting Americans to take the vaccine in 2021 should it become available.
“The polling data does suggest that trust in the FDA is down. I saw one poll that says one in 10 Americans trust the FDA and the pharmaceutical industry about safety and effectiveness. That is a very bad place to be,” said Dr. Zeke Emanuel, a former Obama administration health official and now vice provost for global initiatives at the University of Pennsylvania. “It also means that in a new administration it’s going to have to spend some time rebuilding that kind of trust doing things to increase transparency so people have the data and increase the prominence of the advisory committees that rule on drug approvals. So I think there is a lot of work to be done.”
Emanuel joins Microsoft founder and Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation co-founder Bill Gates in voicing concern on the FDA credibility risk.
“We saw with the completely bungled plasma statements that when you start pressuring people to say optimistic things, they go completely off the rails. The FDA lost a lot of credibility there,” Gates told Bloomberg. Here’s what Gates recently told Yahoo Finance Editor-in-chief Andy Serwer on the race to find a COVID-19 vaccine.
To be sure, the data isn’t trending in the FDA’s favor right now.
The majority of the public (62%) is worried that the political pressure from the Trump administration will cause the FDA to rush to approve a vaccine without ensuring that it is safe and effective, according to a new poll from the Kaiser Family Foundation. About 33% of Americas say they are “very worried” the FDA will rush a vaccine to market.
Look at it through the political party lens, 85% of Democrats and 61% of Independents in the survey are concerned about a rushed vaccine.