FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn has promised Americans that his agency didn’t sacrifice safety for speed when it issued emergency-use authorization for Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine on Friday night amid extraordinary pressure from the Trump administration. “Efficiency does not mean any cutting of corners,” Hahn said in a Saturday press briefing. “We worked quickly based on the urgency of this pandemic, not because of any other external pressure.”
President Trump had openly slammed the FDA for being too slow in evaluating the vaccine, and several news outlets reported Friday that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows told Hahn on Friday morning that, if he didn’t authorize the vaccine by nightfall, he should resign. Hahn called those reports “inaccurate.” On Saturday, he said the FDA’s experts—including physicians, biologists, chemists, statisticians and epidemiologists—worked “around the clock” through holidays, late nights and weekends to provide a swift and thorough evaluation. “I will absolutely take this COVID vaccine pending availability and distribution,” Hahn said.