The coronavirus pandemic has disrupted US public confidence in government scientists, according to the Washington Post.
It notes that some of the drop in confidence is due to agencies' own mistakes, but also stems from political interference. For instance, the Post writes that the Food and Drug Administration issued an Emergency Use Authorization for hydroxychloroquine, a drug President Donald Trump promoted as COVID-19 treatment with little evidence, that then had to be rescinded, and President Trump has been pushing for a coronavirus vaccine by Election Day in the US.
Because of this, the Post notes that "many people will want to know who, exactly, is greenlighting a vaccine." This has scientists worried that the public won't accept a vaccine for SARS-CoV-2, even if approved by career officials, it adds.
Francis Collins, the National Institutes of Health director, tells the Post it would be "a tragedy" if the public didn't accept a safe and effective vaccine, adding that without that, "we won't be able to put this behind us even though we have the scientific tools to do that. That is an absolutely terrible outcome for a technologically advanced society."