Covid-19

Political Pressure or No, Most of Us Trust the FDA

Even though a majority of Americans think President Trump has tried to interfere with COVID-19 recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), most still trust the agencies to offer science-based information, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) health tracking poll.

The KFF poll findings come as the Government Accountability Office (GAO), an independent watchdog, announced that it will investigate whether the Trump administration did inhibit the agencies’ COVID-19 response, according to Politico.

The GAO will “review whether the CDC and FDA’s scientific integrity and communications policies have been violated and whether those policies are being implemented as intended to assure scientific integrity,” the GAO wrote in a letter to Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), according to Politico.

In the letter, the GAO said that it could not undertake an investigation for about three months.

Sen. Warren, along with Sens. Gary Peters (D-Mich.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) requested the investigation based on a Politico report that administration officials tried to interfere with the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports to match the president’s upbeat message about the pandemic. The senators also cited pressure on the CDC to relax its guidelines for reopening schools.

In a press release, the senators called the GAO’s audit “a good first step” in making sure information coming from the agencies was based on science and facts, and not on the administration’s political agenda.

"Health and science experts should be able to do their jobs to steer us through crises like this pandemic without political interference, and we must ensure that the American people receive fact-based information so that they can make well-informed decisions for themselves and their families amidst this national public health emergency," the statement read.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services defended the administration’s right to oversight of the two health agencies, according to Politico.

According to the KFF tracking poll, 55% of Americans feel that the president is intervening in the CDC and FDA’s efforts to review and approve a coronavirus vaccine, while 54% believe that he is interfering with the guidelines and recommendations issued by the two agencies.

The KFF poll found that most Republicans don’t feel that Trump is interfering, while most Democrats do believe he is, and that it is a bad thing. However, 62% of those polled worry that political pressure from the White House will lead to the FDA’s rushing approval of a vaccine without making sure that it is safe.

Nevertheless, 71% of respondents from both political parties still trust that the FDA will make sure a vaccine is safe and effective, while 72% are placing their faith in the CDC to issue guidelines and recommendations based on scientific evidence.

The poll also looked at the impact of Trump’s coronavirus diagnosis: 31% said it has made them more likely to wear a mask and practice social distancing. More Democrats (44%) than Republicans (20%) said they were more likely to social distance, while 40% of Democrats and 20% of Republicans said they were more likely to wear a mask.

Robert Calandra is an award-winning journalist, book author, and playwright. His work has appeared in national and regional magazines and newspapers.

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