Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates on Tuesday questioned the credibility of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and whether it could be a reliable source for coronavirus-related information, suggesting that the agency, which he once deemed a top-notch regulator, may be falling victim to political pressure.
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The billionaire pointed to when FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn exaggerated the benefit of blood plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 at one of President Trump’s news conferences, according to Bloomberg. Hahn walked back the comments a day later.
“We saw with the completely bungled plasma statements that when you start pressuring people to say optimistic things, they go completely off the rails," Gates said during an interview with Bloomberg Television. "The FDA lost a lot of credibility there."
Just like the "CDC was viewed as the best in the world, the FDA had that same reputation as a top-notch regulator,” Gates said. “But there’s been some cracks with some of the things they’ve said at the commissioner level.”
Earlier this month, Trump suggested that a vaccine could be available by October, noting that three vaccines are in the final stages of clinical trials.
"It will be delivered before the end of the year, in my opinion, before the end of the year, but it really might even be delivered before the end of October," Trump said during a rally in Latrobe, Pa. "How do you like that? Wouldn't that be nice? And you know why? Not because of the election. It'd be nice because we want to save people."
However, to assure public confidence in potential treatments, nine other leading coronavirus vaccine developers vowed to prioritize safety before speed by waiting to seek emergency government approval for the vaccine until human trials show "substantial evidence of safety and efficacy."
The CEOs of each company promised not to apply for FDA approval, even for emergency use, until certain standards are met.
"We believe this pledge will help ensure public confidence in the rigorous scientific and regulatory process by which COVID-19 vaccines are evaluated and may ultimately be approved," according to the joint statement.
This will work to "ensure a sufficient supply and range of vaccine options, including those suitable for global access," the statement read.
“These companies are very professional and the benefits of the vaccine here are very dramatic,” Gates said. “Thank goodness that we have this private-sector expertise that we want to shape into a global public good that gets to everybody on the planet.”
FOX Business' Brittany De Lea contributed to this report.