White House reportedly tells FDA commissioner to approve Pfizer vaccine on Friday or resign

Stephen Hahn
(Image credit: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images)

The White House has reportedly demanded that the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration approve Pfizer and BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine on Friday or resign.

White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows on Friday told FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn to submit his resignation should the FDA not approve the vaccine by the end of the day, The Washington Post reported.

Pfizer applied for emergency authorization for its COVID-19 vaccine in November, and the FDA was expected to provide the approval in the coming days after an independent advisory panel on Thursday recommended the agency do so. But President Trump urged the FDA speed up the process and accused the agency of "playing games" in a Friday tweet.

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The Post also reports that the "warning led the FDA to accelerate its timetable for clearing America's first vaccine from Saturday morning to later Friday," and the FDA and Pfizer are "rushing to complete" the necessary paperwork.

Axios also reported that Meadows "hinted" in a phone call with Hahn on Friday "that his job security might be in jeopardy" while pushing for the vaccine to be approved by the end of the day. Hahn told Axios this is an "untrue representation" of their phone call, saying the "FDA was encouraged to continue working expeditiously on Pfizer-BioNTech's EUA request" and "is committed to issuing this authorization quickly."

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