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Spinning an FDA "Cocoon"

Securing the approval of new guidelines for the emergency authorization of a SARS-CoV-2 vaccine was a win for the US Food and Drug Administration in a time when federal science agencies have faced pressure from the White House, the New York Times reports.

It notes that, earlier this year, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn was pressured by the White House to authorize hydroxychloroquine as a COVID-19 treatment, even though there was little evidence supporting its use. Hahn also, it adds, misspoke when characterizing the number of people helped by convalescent plasma treatment.

Following that last incident, the Times reports that Hahn created a "cocoon" around the FDA so that only he deals with the White House. It adds that Hahn appears to be trying to prevent what happened at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — where scientists have lost independence and authority — from happening at FDA.

The approval of the stricter vaccine emergency authorization guidelines came despite initial White House opposition. The Times writes that this "was a win for career civil servants — and for the pharmaceutical industry."