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FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn. Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Stephen Hahn told the Financial Times he would be willing to fast-track the coronavirus vaccine process with an emergency use authorization before phase 3 trials are over, but insisted he would not do so for political reasons.

Why it matters: Health experts believe a vaccine — coupled with recommended public health measures — will be the path back to societal normalcy. The decision of when to green-light the vaccine will "likely to be one of the most important and sensitive in US public health history," writes the FT's Kiran Stacey.

Details: Hahn said the FDA could issue an emergency use authorization, which is not the same as a full approval, for certain groups if officials believe the benefits outweigh the risk.

  • "We have a convergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the political season, and we're just going to have to get through that and stick to our core principles,” Hahn said.
  • “This is going to be a science, medicine, data decision. This is not going to be a political decision."

The big picture: Hahn's comments came at the end of a week in which he faced criticism for inaccurately describing the benefits of convalescent plasma at a press conference with President Trump, prompting allegations that the agency has been politicized.

  • Hahn apologized for the error and stressed that he "would not participate in any decision that was made on anything other than the science."
  • The emergency authorization for plasma, which is safe but not yet proven to definitively work on COVID-19, came after both Trump and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro berated health officials for being part of the "deep state."

Go deeper: FDA removes top spokesperson after 11 days on the job

Go deeper

Moderna, Pfizer decline WH invitation for COVID-19 "vaccine summit"

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The Trump administration is hosting a "vaccine summit" on Tuesday that will include President Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, pharmacies and logistics companies, but not any vaccine manufacturer representatives.

The big picture: Moderna and Pfizer declined the White House’s invitation, Stat News first reported. But a senior administration official said Monday that the administration ultimately deemed the vaccine manufacturers presence “not appropriate” due to their pending EUA applications.

Dec 7, 2020 - Health

India's Serum Institute seeks emergency use nod for AstraZeneca vaccine

A healthcare worker administers a coronavirus swab test on Dec. 6 in Mumbai, India. Photo: Satyabrata Tripathy/Hindustan Times via Getty Images

India is reviewing the COVID-19 vaccines developed by Pfizer and AstraZeneca for emergency use, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: India is home to the Serum Institute, the largest vaccine manufacturer in the world by volume. The country has also reported the most coronavirus cases outside the U.S., and the third-most COVID fatalities globally, per Johns Hopkins University data.