Bill Gates no longer trusts US regulators - and questions whether the Food and Drug Administration's eventual approval of a coronavirus vaccine will mean the shot is safe.
'The FDA lost a lot of credibility,' the billionaire philanthropist told Bloomberg Television, referring to the agency's series of prematurely positive outlook on various COVID-19 treatments, and subsequent retractions.
Confidence in a vaccine from the long-time investor in public health initiatives could help to encourage Americans to get the shot that is likely the world's best hope to combat the pandemic.
But right now, Gates has little confidence that the FDA will sufficiently vet vaccines, and his skepticism is mirrored in the American public.
Meanwhile, Gates's own foundation published a report on Monday finding that the pandemic has wiped out 25 years of progress on global vaccine initiatives in just 25 weeks.
When asked if he still trusts the FDA after its 'bungled' and overly-optimistic statements and decisions about COVID-19 treatments, he cited 'cracks' in what it has said during an interview with Bloomberg Television. He said he was relieved companies promised not to cut corners
The coronavirus crisis has forced health agencies in every nation to pivot their focus to the developing treatments, vaccines and guidelines to slow the spread of the deadly infection.
With the help of governmental agencies, drug companies have set to work testing therapeutics and developing vaccines with unprecedented speed.
The public and political eye has shifted onto health agencies in unprecedented ways too, and the they've buckled under the pressure, at least in Gates's view.
'Historically, just like the CDC was viewed as the best in the world, the FDA had that same reputation as a top-notch regulator,' Gates said.
'But there’s been some cracks with some of the things they’ve said at the commissioner level.'
After the FDA issued emergency use authorization for the use of plasma donated by COVID-19 survivors in August, Commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn cited an off-the-cuff statistic that plasma would save 35 percent of patients treated with it.
That figure was drawn from an unpublished observational study, and did not compare patients treated with plasma to those who got a placebo.
President Trump has hinted that he hopes a coronavirus vaccine could be ready before the November 3 election, but health experts are concerned about the safety of potential shots amid this sort or political pressure (file)
FDA Commissioner Dr Stephen Hahn said after the agency's August approval of convalescent plasma to treat COVID-19 that it saved the lives of 35% of patients treated it. The stat came from an unpublished study and