COVID-19 vaccine will be made available "on the basis of science and data," FDA commissioner says

FDA commissioner talks COVID-19 vaccine development
FDA commissioner talks COVID-19 vaccine devel... 02:11

As the race continues to manufacture a vaccine in the fight against the coronavirus, Stephen Hahn, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, has made it clear how his agency would handle outside pressure to approve a vaccine before it's ready.

"I can tell you our decision at FDA will not be made on any other criteria than the science and data associated with these clinical trials," Hahn told CBS News.

The commissioner said, depending on that data, it's possible a vaccine could be available by Election Day under the Emergency Use Authorization program - before a Phase III trial is completely finished.

Hahn acknowledged the pressure his agency faces to approve a vaccination.

"There's been pressure throughout this pandemic and I think anybody who doesn't acknowledge that would be kidding themselves. There's been pressure to make sure that we get medical products as quickly as possible to the American people," Hahn said.

"Of course, everyone wants us to do this as quickly as possible. But I think everybody also wants us to do this safely and data-driven way as possible and that's what FDA has done."

Some vaccine manufacturers have said they could start delivering vaccines by the end of the year. Hahn promised his agency "will not make that decision on the basis of politics."

CBS News asked, "Would that promise go so far as to say that if you are pressured to make that kind of decision that you don't agree with, you would resign?"

"I think all options are on the table, with respect. I hope we won't be in that position," said Hahn.

The U.S. on Monday topped 6 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University. The country has reported a million more coronavirus cases and about 21,000 more deaths in just the past three weeks.

The total number of confirmed cases worldwide is more than 25 million, meaning the U.S. accounts for about 24% of all cases around the globe despite only having around 4% of the world's population.

  • Jon Lapook
    Jonathan LaPook

    Dr. Jonathan LaPook is the chief medical correspondent for CBS News. Follow him on Twitter at @DrLaPook