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Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said Sunday that he rejects President Trump's claim that the "deep state" at the FDA is delaying coronavirus treatments and vaccines for political reasons, telling CBS News' "Face the Nation" on Sunday: "It is a foundational truth that what guides that agency is science."

Why it matters: Gottlieb served as FDA commissioner for two years under the Trump administration. He pushed back on claims from Trump and White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows that the agency's bureaucrats don't understand the "urgency" of the moment, saying, "To say these products aren't moving at a historic pace I think is wrong."

Driving the news: Trump plans to announce at a press conference Sunday an emergency use authorization for convalescent plasma, which has already been given to more than 70,000 individuals, the Washington Post reports.

  • Many scientists and physicians say the convalescent plasma might be helpful in treating patients, but warn that it's far from a breakthrough. The plasma is rich in antibodies but there isn't enough evidence to conclusively say it works.
  • Last week, the New York Times reported that the FDA was close to granting an emergency authorization for plasma, but that top health officials intervened because they believed that data from recent trials was too weak.

What he's saying: "I think a lot of that was about plasma, that tweet," Gottlieb said. "There were perceived delays in authorizing plasma under an emergency use authorization. It was reported this week that NIH had misgivings about FDA going forward with that authorization."

  • "But there's reasons people have some questions about that," he added. "The trial that that's going to be based on, 70,000 patients, wasn't a very rigorously done trial."
  • "I believe plasma's probably beneficial, it's probably weakly beneficial in the setting of this treatment. But I think some people wanted to see more rigorous data to ground that decision. I think that's part of what is going on here with respect to that tweet and questions about the FDA decision-making."

Go deeper

Updated Nov 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. to mandate vaccines for anyone who crosses borders starting in January — Shots lagged data by months — The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort.
  2. Health: The Thanksgiving bouncers — Axios-Ipsos poll: Thanksgiving roulette — Experts criticize CDC's language on vaccine boosters — America's Thanksgiving gamble.
  3. Politics: Biden administration asks appeals court to reinstate vaccine mandate — Michigan recommends face masks for all residents amid surge.
  4. Education: A COVID strategy backfires at schools — Schools across the U.S. offer vaccine drivesBenefits of in-person school outweigh risks, study finds.
  5. World: EU drug regulator recommends Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids — Italy announces new COVID restrictions for unvaccinated people — European health agency urges expanding booster shot access.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.
Nov 30, 2020 - Health

Cuomo orders emergency hospital protocols as COVID capacity dwindles

Gov. Andrew Cuomo. Photo: Lev Radin/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said on Monday that struggling state hospital systems must transfer patients to sites that are not nearing capacity, as rising coronavirus cases and hospitalizations strain medical resources.

Why it matters: New York does not expect to get the same kind of help from thousands of out-of-state doctors and nurses that it got this spring, Cuomo acknowledged, as most of the country battles skyrocketing COVID hospitalizations and infections.

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.