A last-minute holdup in the COVID-19 vaccine approval process has thrown the White House into chaos, according to the Washington Examiner, and FDA chief Dr. Stephen Hahn has reportedly been ordered to approve the vaccine immediately or resign from his post.
A vaccine developed by pharmaceutical giants Pfizer and BioNTech was given the go-ahead by FDA’s panel of outside advisers on Thursday, but the final emergency authorization has yet to be granted.
The White House’s Operation Warp Speed has worked to develop a vaccine faster than any other in history, and President Trump has reportedly lost patience with last-minute holdups in the process.
The Washington Post first reported that White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was the one responsible for calling upon Hahn to resign if the vaccine is not approved by end of day on Friday.
According to the Examiner:
A senior official said Hahn had already offered assurances that he would meet the target.
“Hahn has been telling people for days that he would have approval and make the announcement by Friday evening,” said the official, who added that the first vaccinations were likely to be given on Monday.
For his part, Hahn said the conversation with Meadows had been mischaracterized.
“This is an untrue representation of the phone call with the chief of staff,” he said. “The FDA was encouraged to continue working expeditiously on Pfizer-BioNTech’s EUA request. FDA is committed to issuing this authorization quickly, as we noted in our statement this morning.”
President Trump tweeted on Friday morning, “Get the d*** vaccines out NOW, Dr. Hahn,” he said. “Stop playing games and start saving lives.”