Written by Julia Zimbeck, CNN
The influenza vaccines and drug policy of the Trump administration has come under fire, with fears that the Administration may be seeking to remove federal oversight of the development of vaccines.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), spoke to CNN about this issue, which is a growing concern in the scientific community, and said that moving vaccine and drug policy to the states should be avoided.
“My first problem with it, in some ways, is that I think it’s a way to take away from the federal government, and make the responsibility for administering, to the states. “To me, that’s not good,” Fauci told CNN’s Dr Sanjay Gupta.
According to the World Health Organization’s influenza “global stockpile”, there are 21 million doses of influenza vaccines stockpiled around the world for use during an outbreak. However, the WHO’s research has shown that there is not enough vaccine available for all who need it, and the lack of access could be due to lack of funding from governments and restricted access to research and development efforts.
These concerns have echoed through the scientific community, with Fauci comparing the current situation to the “relaxation of the safety standards in automotive manufacturing, where we’ve allowed cars to develop side effects that have not been considered before.”
Fauci was highly critical of comments by Dr Tom Price, the newly appointed Secretary of Health and Human Services, who said earlier this year that determining whether to eliminate the requirement that adult-preventable vaccines be used each year or distribute them on a case-by-case basis would be a decision made by states.
“I think his comments are worrisome. I think they’re dangerous, I think they’re ignorant, I think they’re beyond ignorance, they’re just plain ignorance, so I think it’s a huge mistake. “Price told Axios.
“These rules that we have now, this research, which has been funded for 50 years, don’t depend on money. This research is ethical, it’s legal, it’s accepted in most of the world.
“We are in a position that the United States is now trying to cut it off.
“And maybe my message is over the loudspeaker, but this is the worst thing we can do for public health.
“You know, we take responsibility for that vaccine. In many parts of the world and also in the United States, we take responsibility for that vaccine. We’re the ones who pay for it, we’re the ones who can’t take it if we don’t take it, so we are not going to distribute it on a case-by-case basis, that’s fine. But we can’t send it off without our standards as to safety and efficacy and whether they work.
“If this legislation goes through, and I sincerely hope that it doesn’t, in my opinion, this would represent a real big problem for the health of Americans, and I think it would certainly represent a big problem for science and medicine.”