The head of the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has said there are no “deep state” elements at the agency, after Donald Trump accused workers there of attempting to slow down a potential coronavirus vaccine.
In a tweet posted on Saturday, the president claimed, without any evidence, that staff at the FDA were working to delay vaccine results until after the election in November.
“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,” Mr Trump wrote.
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The president uses the term “deep state” to refer to government staff he alleges are trying to undermine his administration.
Dr Stephen Hahn, the FDA commissioner, told Reuters that Mr Trump’s comments were unfounded, saying: “I have not seen anything that I would consider to be ‘deep state’ at the FDA.”
“I enjoy a very good relationship with the president and I have discussed our decisions with him, and I feel very comfortable and continue to feel comfortable with that relationship,” Dr Hahn added.
The FDA recently authorised a coronavirus treatment using blood plasma, which Mr Trump welcomed on Sunday ahead of the start of the Republican National Convention.
Dr Hahn said the authorisation was made based on scientific data and was in no way linked to political pressure.
However, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the country’s leading infectious diseases expert, and Dr. Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health, both said they had concerns that the data did not warrant the decision.