FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn and President Trump. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The uproar over the FDA's authorization for the use of convalescent plasma in coronavirus patients is only partially about convalescent plasma. It's also about a vaccine that doesn't exist yet, and trust in the FDA's eventual stamp of approval.

The state of play: The FDA has been forced to defend itself on both fronts.

  • Peter Marks, who leads the relevant division within the FDA, said at a news conference yesterday that the evidence of plasma's effectiveness "more than adequately met" the standards for emergency use, noting that there is little question about its safety, per the Wall Street Journal.

And FDA commissioner Stephen Hahn, in an interview with Bloomberg's Drew Armstrong, owned up to a mistake in how he described the effectiveness of convalescent plasma while also addressing bigger-picture concerns about the FDA's independence.

  • "Yeah, I'm aware of it. I've listened to all the conversations," Hahn told Bloomberg when asked about political pressure. "But what I tell internally our folks is they need to make the decisions based upon the data. I have not reversed one of their decisions, nor do I intend to unless I think it's absolutely wrong."
  • Hahn also said he wasn't present when White House economic adviser Peter Navarro berated FDA officials as members of the "Deep State" and told them to "get on Trump Time."
  • He said he "would not participate in any decision that was made on anything other than the science."

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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

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Oct 24, 2020 - World

Poland's president tests positive for coronavirus

Duda. Photo: Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Polish President Andrzej Duda has tested positive for the coronavirus, a spokesperson announced on Saturday.

The big picture: Duda is reportedly feeling well and in isolation. His positive test comes amid a massive uptick in COVID-19 throughout the country and elsewhere across Europe.

  • Poland had previously warded off the virus with relative success, but is now facing a massive influx of cases that threatens to overwhelm its medical system.
  • The nation on Saturday tracked "13,628 new cases and 179 new deaths — a record number of deaths in one day since the start of pandemic," AP reports.
Updated 59 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Politics: Ex-FDA chief: Pence campaigning after COVID exposure puts others at risk — Mark Meadows: "We are not going to control the pandemic"
  2. Health: 13 states set single-day coronavirus case records last week — U.S. reports over 80,000 new cases for second consecutive day.
  3. World: Australian city Melbourne to exit one of world's longest lockdowns — In photos: Coronavirus restrictions grow across Europe
  4. Media: Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine after possible COVID-19 exposure
  5. Nonprofit: Rockefeller Foundation commits $1 billion for COVID-19 recovery