Joe Biden

Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on Today's New York Times Vaccine Story

August 03, 2020

At every step of this crisis, President Trump has put political considerations ahead of the safety and well-being of the American people with tragic results, which is precisely why I issued this statement last week demanding that any decisions on the approval of a vaccine be made free from political interference and be based first and foremost on the health of the American people, not President Trump's re-election.

A vaccine compromised by political influence would create health and safety risks, and could further shake the American people's already weakened trust in our government's ability to combat this pandemic. That's why I've called on President Trump to let scientists and public health experts make the final decision on the approval of a vaccine, and to be completely transparent about their findings — including the disclosure of clinical data to allow for independent expert review.

Today's story in the New York Times makes clear that President Trump's administration refuses to give these assurances, cracking open the door for politics to corrupt this process. We cannot, and must not, allow politics to determine the health and safety of the American people. Trump's bungling of the response to COVID-19 has cost over 150,000 American lives and has resulted in the deepest economic downturn in recorded history, and the consequences of his mishandling of a vaccine would be immeasurable.

Last week, Vice President Biden released the following statement on vaccine development:

Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on Vaccines

It's great news that scientists are making progress in the search for a safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine. We all hope the next phases of clinical trials will yield positive results to support an approval based on the scientific evidence, but the development of a new vaccine requires a dedication to science, coordination, transparency, truth, and fairness to all -- and we have a President who stands for none of these things.

The American people's health depends on confidence in the safety of any vaccine. As we enter the height of election season, President Trump should assure us all that the White House will respect the independent authority of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to decide, free from political pressure, if the vaccine is safe and effective.

Today, I am calling on President Trump to commit to the three principles of integrity in the development of a vaccine. These are the same principles I will follow as President:

First, scientists and public health experts decide on safety and efficacy. The White House should not weigh in on these matters or push the FDA to provide emergency authorizations prematurely, as they did for hydroxychloroquine. The President should not "hype" treatments or vaccines, overstate their results, or undermine confidence in scientific findings.

Second, clinical data for any vaccine the FDA approves should be made available to the public for independent expert review. The FDA should convene the Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee for public session prior to any final FDA decision.

Third, there must be full transparency on recommendations by career staff. The career staff in the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research should be authorized to write a written report for public review. If the FDA Commissioner decides to reverse the career staff's findings, he must explain the basis of the decision in a public report. Before a license is final, senior career scientists and public health experts should be allowed to make public, uncensored statements and appear before Congress unconstrained to speak the truth.

Joseph R. Biden, Statement by Vice President Joe Biden on Today's New York Times Vaccine Story Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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