Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn is apologizing Tuesday morning for vastly overstating the benefits of convalescent plasma in the treatment of COVID-19 patients. His announcement comes less than 48 hours after appearing with President Donald Trump and “echoing” his false claim that it cures 35 percent of those infected with the coronavirus.
“Hahn had echoed Trump in saying that 35 more people out of 100 would survive the coronavirus if they were treated with the plasma,” the Associated Press reports. “That claim vastly overstated preliminary findings of Mayo Clinic observation.”
Calling the criticism he received “entirely justified,” Hahn Monday night, as the Republican National Convention was going on, posted this tweet:
I have been criticized for remarks I made Sunday night about the benefits of convalescent plasma. The criticism is entirely justified. What I should have said better is that the data show a relative risk reduction not an absolute risk reduction.
— Dr. Stephen M. Hahn (@SteveFDA) August 25, 2020
After a week of internal attacks from high-ranking members of the Trump administration, the FDA agreed to grant an emergency authorization for the use of convalescent plasma, despite just days earlier reversing guidance after studies showed weak or inconclusive results.
White House Director of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Peter Navarro, for example, “had aggressively confronted FDA officials,” last week, Axios reported, “saying, ‘You are all Deep State and you need to get on Trump Time.’ (That’s the expression Navarro uses to describe the speed that he says Trump demands.)”
Early Saturday morning President Trump used that same line of attack to go after Commissioner Hahn directly and very publicly:
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
Before the day had ended the White House teased out that President Donald Trump would be making an announcement Sunday evening about “a major therapeutic breakthrough on the China Virus” – and that Hahn would be there to support it.
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
Tuesday morning Hahn went on “CBS This Morning” to apologize and explain.
“I personally could have done a better job and should have done a better job at that press conference explaining what the data show regarding convalescent plasma. I can assure the American people that this decision was made based upon sound science and data.” — @SteveFDA pic.twitter.com/ALVxXEcJR8
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) August 25, 2020
Dr. Peter Lurie, a former FDA official under the Obama administration who now leads the nonprofit Center for Science in the Public Interest told the AP that Dr. Hahn’s characterization of benefits of convalescent plasma in COVID-19 patients was “extraordinary” and “mind-boggling.”
Image: Official White House Photo by Tia Dufour via Flickr
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Trump and His Cultists’ COVID Downplaying and Denialism Wins ‘Lie of the Year’ Award
Trump and Trumpism Have ‘Won’ in Four of the Past Five Years
The fact-checkers at Politifact this year have handed their annual “Lie of the Year” award to President Donald Trump and his supporters’ coronavirus denialism, including any “claims that deny, downplay or disinform about COVID-19.”
“President Donald J. Trump fueled confusion and conspiracies from the earliest days of the coronavirus pandemic,” Politifact managing editor Katie Sanders writes. “He embraced theories that COVID-19 accounted for only a small fraction of the thousands upon thousands of deaths. He undermined public health guidance for wearing masks and cast Dr. Anthony Fauci as an unreliable flip-flopper.”
And while Sanders notes “the infodemic was not the work of a single person,” she makes clear “Trump was the conductor, if not the composer. The message: The threat to your health was overhyped to hurt the political fortunes of the president.”
Importantly, Politifact reminds Americans that all along Trump knew the truth.
“On Feb. 7, Trump leveled with book author Bob Woodward about the dangers of the new virus that was spreading across the world, originating in central China. He told the legendary reporter that the virus was airborne, tricky and ‘more deadly than even your strenuous flus,'” while all along telling the American public just the opposite: “I mean, view this the same as the flu.”
Here’s Trump on February 26, telling Americans the 15 U.S. cases “are going to go down to zero.”
Feb. 26: “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
Trump knew the coronavirus cases weren’t going down to zero. He lied to us, and now 6.5 million Americans have been infected and 190,000 are dead.pic.twitter.com/kL2heMFSNi
— Keith Boykin (@keithboykin) September 10, 2020
“Three weeks later, March 19, he acknowledged to Woodward: ‘To be honest with you, I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down. Because I don’t want to create a panic.'”
This is not President Trump’s first “win.” In 2019 Politifact awarded Trump the “Lie of the Year” for his false claim that the whistleblower got his Ukraine call “almost completely wrong.”
In 2017 Trump also won the award for his lie that Russian election interference is a “made-up story.”
Trump wasn’t the direct “winner” of the 2016 “Lie of the Year” award, “fake news” was.
“Fake news found a willing enabler in then- candidate Trump,” Politifact writes, “who at times repeated and legitimized made-up reports.”
And in 2015, when Trump hit the political stage, the “campaign misstatements of Donald Trump” were awarded “Lie of the Year.”
‘Do You Think You Might Be a Super Spreader?’: Trump Refuses to Answer Questions as He Leaves Walter Reed (Video)
President Donald Trump, to the shock of the nation, just left Walter Reed Medical Center after a mere 70 hours of treatment for his coronavirus illness.
One reporter as Trump was filmed walking out the doors and into the presidential limousine asked, “Do you think you might be a super spreader?”
He did not respond but appeared to shake his head slightly.
Trump took no questions, but did say “thank you,” and gave his usual thumbs up sign.
Question: Do you think you might be a super spreader Mr. President? pic.twitter.com/0OrKRy0tXw
— Acyn Torabi (@Acyn) October 5, 2020
Trump Calls on FDA to Fast-Track Coronavirus Vaccine Approvals
President Donald Trump on Wednesday publicly called on the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track approvals of coronavirus vaccines after a fourth American drug company’s COVID-19 vaccine entered the final clinical trials stage. The call came just one day after the U.S. saw its 200,000 coronavirus death.
“Big news,” Trump tweeted. “Numerous great companies are seeing fantastic results. @FDA must move quickly!”
Trump then retweeted other tweets praising the Johnson & Johnson drug trial.
Many see Trump’s actions as inappropriate pressure on what is supposed to be an independent, non-partisan federal agency, and some see them as dangerous.
A Washington Post reporter noted the FDA on Tuesday said it was raising the bar on coronavirus vaccine approvals.
WaPo yesterday: “FDA poised to announce tougher standards for a covid-19 vaccine that make it unlikely one will be cleared by Election Day”https://t.co/2FfzadGUhe
Trump today: “FDA must move quickly!” https://t.co/vlt6JdwNjY
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) September 23, 2020
But Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on Monday issued a draconian order hamstringing the FDA and requiring all moves to be approved by him.
Here’s former Obama Under Secretary of State Richard Stengel, issuing a warning:
The meaning of this ‘power grab’ is not murky but clear. At Trump’s behest, Azar will over-rule FDA scientists to approve emergency use of a vaccine before the election even if it’s unsafe, risking even more lives for one goal: Trump’s re-election. #VOTE https://t.co/4ij6DmrYqm
— Richard Stengel (@stengel) September 21, 2020
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