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Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause: Trump blames Biden and complains about FDA hurting his election chances

Former president blames “bureaucrats” at FDA, alleging political motives with “friends” at Pfizer

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Tuesday 13 April 2021 19:28 BST
Biden warns of complacency as Covid vaccine rollout continues
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Donald Trump has accused the Biden administration of doing “a terrible disservice to people throughout the world” by allowing a pause in the distribution of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine.

The former president said in a statement that the reputation of the vaccine will now be “permanently challenged” and people who have taken it will be “up in arms” after the decision by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration.

A pause in the distribution of the vaccine was called by the federal agencies while they investigate rare cases of blood clots in six women who received the single-dose shot. Almost 7 million doses have been administered in the US to date.

The statement issued by the former president’s office says: “Perhaps all this was done for politics or perhaps it’s the FDA’s love for Pfizer.”

Mr Trump went on to accuse “bureaucrats” at the FDA of allegedly being in league with their “friends” at Pfizer in announcing approval of that vaccine two days after the 2020 US election.

“The FDA, especially with long-time bureaucrats within, has to be controlled,” he wrote. “They should bot be able to do such damage for possibly political reasons, or maybe their friends at Pfizer have suggested it.”

“They’ll do thing like this to make themselves look important,” he continued. “Remember, it was the FDA working with Pfizer, who announced the vaccine approval two days after the 2020 President Election.”

Mr Trump claimed that the agency, which approves drugs for use and monitors their safety and efficacy, didn’t like him because he pushed them “extremely hard”.

“If I didn’t, you wouldn’t have a vaccine for 3-5 years, or maybe not at all. It takes them years to act!”

He then said the agency should do its testing, clean up the record of the vaccine, and get it back online quickly.

Rounding out his statement with a return to his xenophobic rhetoric, the former president wrote: “The only way we defeat the China Virus is with our great vaccines.”

As the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines need to be administered in two doses several weeks apart, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine was seen as a game-changer in the push to vaccinate people as quickly as possible with just one dose.

While Mr Trump spent much of this time in office refusing to acknowledge the gravity of the pandemic crisis, often claiming that the US was “rounding the final turn” on the virus, he did fund vaccine development through Operation War Speed.

Three vaccines were developed and authorised in record time, paving the way for the Biden administration’s efforts to ensure the mass production and delivery of the doses.

As of 13 April, there have been 31.2 million confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the US and 562,718 officially recorded deaths.

More than 190 million vaccine doses have been administered and 74.1 million Americans are now fully vaccinated — 22.6 per cent of the population.

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