Those who counted President Donald Trump an ally against vaccines might be disappointed to hear what his pick to head up the FDA has said on the subject.
Scott Gottlieb, selected by Trump to lead the regulatory agency, told CNBC back in 2015 that theories of a connection between vaccines and autism have been “thoroughly debunked.”
“For too long, a lot of people’s public statements allowed these myths to propagate,” Gottlieb said during the interview. “They have said things like, ‘well, we don’t think there’s any correlation but we need more research.’ We don’t need more research. At some point, enough is enough.”
Of course, antivaccine sentiments haven’t died down since that interview, and the nominee’s statements fly in the face of previous claims from Trump, who is said to be putting together a commission to examine vaccine safety. At a Republican primary debate back in 2015, Trump said he’s “totally in favor of vaccines,” but that he wants to see “smaller doses over a longer period of time” because of an autism risk.
Further, the president has taken to Twitter on several occasions to talk up the disproven theory.
Healthy young child goes to doctor, gets pumped with massive shot of many vaccines, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 28, 2014
I am being proven right about massive vaccinations—the doctors lied. Save our children & their future.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2014
Overwhelmingly, biopharma has reacted favorably to Gottlieb’s nomination since the news broke Friday. Industry watchers and analysts continue to dig into what he might do at the agency, with one leading belief being that he’ll push for faster generic approvals.
Importantly, the FDA does not set the United States’ vaccination policy. That’s the responsibility of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an agency prominent vaccine safety skeptic Robert Kennedy Jr. has called a “cesspool of corruption.” Trump hasn’t yet named his pick to head up the CDC.
Trump met with RFK Jr. before taking office in January, and the political scion told reporters afterward he had been asked to chair a commission on “vaccine safety and scientific integrity.” The transition team denied that assertion, but RFK Jr. said last month the plan was still in the works.
Speaking about news of the potential commission, vaccine expert Peter Hotez said he’s worried that antivaccine efforts will continue to grow around the country. Hotez said he and other experts were “apprehensive” about the dialogue, but he added that he’s waiting to see more tangible proposals from Trump on vaccines.
“Once we see the people that are in place in key positions, we’ll be in a much better position to understand where we stand,” Hotez said.