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South Carolina Republican Rep. Ralph Norman on Thursday introduced legislation that could force the Food and Drug Administration to release all documents relating to the coronavirus vaccine within the next 100 days.
The legislation is a direct response to a request made last month by the federal agency to prolong releasing data on COVID vaccines for up to 55 years.
“How does a vaccine that receives approval in 108 days now require 55 years just to release information?” Norman said to Fox News. “It sounds like the beginning of a very bad joke.”
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In September, a group of 30 scientists and medical professionals from the Public Health and Medical Professionals for Transparency (PHMPT) – which comprises officials from ULCA, Brown University, Yale University, and international institutions – sued the FDA after the agency refused to expedite a request for vaccine data filed under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA).
The FOIA request was first submitted to the federal agency after the FDA approved the Pfizer vaccine for children age 16 and up in August.
The group of scientists argued that releasing data relating to the vaccine would help satisfy vaccine skeptics of its safety and encourage further vaccinations.
“Reviewing this information will settle the ongoing public debate regarding the adequacy of the FDA’s review process,” the group said in court filings. “Releasing this data should also confirm the FDA’s conclusion that the Pfizer vaccine is safe and effective and, thus, increase confidence in the Pfizer vaccine.”
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But Justice Department lawyers representing the FDA argued the plaintiff’s request includes more than 329,000 pages of documents — all of which need to be scrubbed to ensure “trade secret[s]” are not publicly released.
“The FDA does not have the personnel or resources in its FOIA office to process plaintiff’s FOIA request at a rate of more than 80,000 pages per month,” the defense argued.
In court documents filed last month, the DOJ said the branch responsible for reviewing and releasing the pages to the PHMPT has just 10 employees who are currently juggling 400 pending FOIA requests.
The FDA has proposed that just 500 pages a month be released instead, which means if the federal judge agrees to the agency’s terms, the PHMPT can expect to receive the entirety of the information it seeks by 2076.
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“The FDA’s only priority should be the health and safety of consumers,” Norman said Thursday. “If the Biden administration is hell-bent on forcing these vaccine mandates on us then the public has every right to know how and why this vaccine got approved in such a short amount of time.”