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President Trump watches FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn address the media, Aug. 23. Photo: Pete Marovich/Getty Images

A big story that slipped under the radar during last night's RNC: The FDA commissioner apologized for overselling the benefits of convalescent plasma for treating the coronavirus.

Why it matters: The FDA is supposed to be a Switzerland of neutrality within government, able to act based on science instead of pressure from politicians and big business.

  • "I have been criticized for remarks I made Sunday night about the benefits of convalescent plasma. The criticism is entirely justified," said FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn.

The big picture: The Trump administration has publicly pressured the FDA on granting an emergency use authorization for plasma.

  • President Trump and trade adviser Peter Navarro have privately and publicly criticized the FDA for holding up authorization, accusing staffers of being part of the "deep state."
  • Trump said plasma "has proven to reduce mortality by 35%" in a Sunday press conference.
  • Hahn echoed Trump's comments, which he apologized for last night, saying what he "should have said better is that the data show a relative risk reduction not an absolute risk reduction."

Between the lines: Public health leaders made a public outcry against quick approval of the treatment.

  • That includes top NIH scientists Francis Collins, Anthony Fauci and H. Clifford Lane.
  • “The three of us are pretty aligned on the importance of robust data through randomized control trials, and that a pandemic does not change that,” Lane told the New York Times.
  • Hahn said yesterday that the final decision "was made by FDA career scientists based on data submitted a few weeks ago."

The bottom line: Hahn's predecessor Scott Gottlieb tweeted: "I am confident in the science part of the evaluation executed by CBER. The way the public part was handled will erode precious public confidence. You earn public confidence in small drops and you loose [sic] it in buckets."

Go deeper

Nov 28, 2020 - Health

U.S. public school enrollment drops as pandemic persists

Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Public schools across the country are seeing a drop in enrollment numbers as schools have shifted to remote and hybrid learning programs to cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, the New York Times reports.

The state of play: Some parents are opting to keep their children at home or finding models that provide in-person coursework.

Nov 29, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Colorado governor and partner test positive for coronavirus

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis. Photo: Michael Ciaglo/Getty Images

Colorado Gov. Jared Polis (D) tweeted Saturday night that he and his partner, Marlon Reis, tested positive for COVID-19.

The big picture: He said they're both "asymptomatic, feeling well, and will continue to isolate at home." On Nov. 9, Polis extended a 30-day mask mandate to combat a rise in cases. The state has confirmed 225,283 coronavirus infections since the pandemic began. Since September, the governors of Wyoming, Nevada, Virginia and Missouri have also tested positive for the virus.

Nov 28, 2020 - Health

Surge in coronavirus cases forces San Francisco to impose curfew

Health care workers at a testing site in San Francisco on Nov. 21. Photo: Jessica Christian/The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

San Francisco will begin imposing a curfew Monday night after California moved the city to the state's most restrictive "purple" tier due to a surge in coronavirus cases, Mayor London Breed announced on Twitter Saturday.

Driving the news: Breed said the city is currently averaging 118 new cases per day compared to 73 per day in the first week of November. The mayor added that the city recorded 768 cases during the week of Nov. 16.