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Trump may block new guidelines for vaccine authorisation

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump said he may or may not approve any new, more stringent US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) standards for an emergency authorisation of a Covid-19 vaccine, saying such a proposal would appear political.

The Washington Post had reported the FDA would issue the guidance to boost transparency and public trust as health experts have become increasingly concerned the Trump administration might be interfering in the approval process to rush out a vaccine.

Mr Trump, however, questioned why a vaccine would need to be delayed and said such a proposal by the FDA would appear to be politically-driven.

"We're looking at that and that has to be approved by the White House. We may or may not approve it," he told a White House news conference, when asked about the Post report.

"That sounds like a political move. Because when you have Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, these great companies, coming up with the vaccines, and they've done testing and everything else, I'm saying why would they have to be adding great length to the process."

Mr Trump added that he had "tremendous trust" in those companies.

Few vaccine developers were expected to have definitive trial results before the presidential election. Pfizer had been the exception, although its timetable could slip with new guidance.

Moderna has said it is unlikely to have data next month. AstraZeneca's trial in the United States is halted while investigators try to determine whether a serious neurological problem suffered by one participant in the company's British trial was caused by the vaccine.

FDA head Stephen Hahn did not directly address the Washington Post report when testifying before the Senate earlier on Wednesday. But he did say regulators would likely provide additional information on the emergency use authorisation process. - REUTERS

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