Should you trust the FDA and the CDC to keep Americans safe? Bill Gates isn’t completely sure

bill gates criticism coronavirus vaccine
Photo via Greg Rubenstein/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The Bill Gates criticism of America’s response to the coronavirus pandemic continues onward. This time, the billionaire has targeted the FDA and the CDC, and he wonders if the two federal government agencies can be trusted.

“We saw with the completely bungled plasma statements that when you start pressuring people to say optimistic things, they go completely off the rails,” Gates, referring to the moment in August when the FDA enthusiastically talked about convalescent plasma as a treatment for COVID-19 before Commissioner Stephen Hahn backtracked the next day, told Bloomberg. “The FDA lost a lot of credibility there.”

The CDC isn’t much better, the philanthropist who co-founded Microsoft said— and it doesn’t help matters when the CDC flip-flops on its views on aerosols.

“Historically, just like the CDC was viewed as the best in the world, the FDA had that same reputation as a top-notch regulator,” said Gates, who has previously been critical of the U.S. coronavirus testing response and who continued his criticism on that front in October by calling it truly a sad thing. “But there’s been some cracks with some of the things they’ve said at the commissioner level.”

Hahn and CDC Director Robert Redfield have both been under pressure as the world tries to get the coronavirus under control while also trying to find a vaccine that will allow people to return to their normal lives. The idea that President Trump, who tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 1, is pressuring the federal government to find and approve a vaccine before the Nov. 3 election (and his months-long support of hydroxychloroquine use) has not helped their credibility.

Considering Trump has opted out of the global fight to find a vaccine because the WHO is involved, that seemingly puts even more pressure on those federal government agencies.

Earlier this month, AstraZeneca, one of the pharmaceutical companies that has entered phase 3 of vaccine trials, had to put their development on hold after one of the volunteers who had been injected with the potential vaccine had shown adverse reactions. The science community said that was actually a positive development, because it showed that AstraZeneca was still letting science and not politics rule its decision-making.

A few days later, AstraZeneca said it had restarted the trials.

Bloomberg also noted that nine companies earlier this month promised it would put science and ethics ahead of anything else as they try to find a vaccine.

“These companies are very professional and the benefits of the vaccine here are very dramatic,” Gates said. “Thank goodness that we have this private-sector expertise that we want to shape into a global public good that gets to everybody on the planet.”

Unfortunately for Gates, it appears he doesn’t necessarily feel the same way about the FDA or the CDC.

Sources: Bloomberg, Washington Post

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