White Home threatens to fireside FDA chief until Covid vaccine is okay on Friday: reviews

US President Donald Trump and Stephen Hahn, Director of the Food and Drug Administration, attend the daily meeting of the coronavirus task force at the White House in Washington, DC on April 24, 2020.

Drew Angerer | Getty Images

White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has urged the head of the Food and Drug Administration to resign if the agency does not clear Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine for emergency use by the end of the day, the Washington Post reported on Friday.

The warning prompted FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and the agency to accelerate their schedule for the release of America’s first Covid-19 vaccine from Saturday morning to late Friday, according to the Post, citing anonymous sources.

The New York Times, Axios and Reuters also reported that Meadows asked Hahn to resign if he wasn’t quick enough to remove the vaccine.

In a statement Hahn called the Post’s report “an untrue account”.

“This is an untrue representation of the telephone conversation with the chief of staff,” Hahn told CNBC on Friday afternoon. “The FDA has been encouraged to continue working swiftly on Pfizer-BioNTech’s EEA request. The FDA is committed to swiftly granting this approval, as stated in our statement this morning.”

The White House did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.

The reports come a day after a key FDA advisory body voted 17-4, with one abstention, to recommend the vaccine, which Pfizer partnered with BioNTech, for emergency approval. The FDA typically follows the recommendations of the Advisory Committee on Vaccines and Related Biological Products. After the overwhelming vote, the FDA should release the vaccine on Friday.

Earlier in the day, President Donald Trump, who has repeatedly urged the FDA to speed up the vaccine development process, told the agency in a tweet, “Get the dam vaccines out NOW.”

“Stop playing and save lives !!!”

– CNBC’s Amanda Macias contributed to this report.

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