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Trump accuses FDA of thwarting coronavirus response, after admin limits testing oversight

President Trump on Saturday baselessly accused the Food and Drug Administration — which he likened to the "deep state, or whoever" — of making it harder for drug companies to distribute coronavirus treatments and vaccines.

Why it matters: Trump's tweet comes on the heels of a policy change by the Department of Health and Human Services to block the FDA's ability to regulate lab-developed tests, including for the coronavirus — which has public health experts worried that unreliable COVID-19 tests could go to market.


Where it stands: The FDA has authorized 218 coronavirus tests with emergency use authorizations as of Friday, which includes 176 molecular tests, 39 antibody tests, and 3 antigen tests, the agency said.

What they're saying: "For the last 6 months, FDA’s device center worked effectively with labs to advance hundreds of tests for Covid," former FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, who served under Trump, tweeted roughly an hour after the president on Saturday morning.

  • But, Gottlieb noted that the "FDA might not be able to provide critical advice to test developers or take needed enforcement actions against bad tests" since the HHS took the reins this week.
  • "We'll see a plethora of DTC Covid tests enter the market, where tests ship directly to consumers and are processed in a central lab operating outside FDA oversight," Gottlieb said.

Between the lines: The policy change surprised many at the FDA and "was a point of intense disagreement" between FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and HHS Secretary Alex Azar, the Washington Post reports. Hahn opposed the change.

The other side: Supporters said the change, announced Wednesday, could allow innovative tests to reach the public more efficiently, and countered that the FDA's process slowed testing at the start of the pandemic, per the Post.

The FDA and HHS did not immediately respond to a request for comment. The White House declined to comment.

Why the startup world needs to ditch "unicorns" for "dragons"

When Aileen Lee originally coined the term "unicorn" in late 2013, she was describing the 39 "U.S.-based software companies started since 2003 and valued at over $1 billion by public or private market investors."

Flashback: It got redefined in early 2015 by yours truly and Erin Griffith, in a cover story for Fortune, as any privately-held startup valued at $1 billion or more. At the time, we counted 80 of them.

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Scoop: Facebook's new moves to lower News Feed's political volume

Facebook plans to announce that it will de-emphasize political posts and current events content in the News Feed based on negative user feedback, Axios has learned. It also plans to expand tests to limit the amount of political content that people see in their News Feeds to more countries outside of the U.S.

Why it matters: The changes could reduce traffic to some news publishers, particularly companies that post a lot of political content.

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Scoop: Amazon quietly getting into live audio business

Amazon is investing heavily in a new live audio feature that's similar to other live audio offerings like Clubhouse, Twitter Spaces and Spotify's new live audio platform, sources tell Axios.

Why it matters: As with Amazon's efforts in podcasting and music subscriptions, the company sees live audio as a way to bolster the types of content it can offer through its voice assistant, Alexa, and its smart speaker products.

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Hurricane Ida exposes America's precarious energy infrastructure

The powerful hurricane that plunged New Orleans into darkness for what could be weeks is the latest sign that U.S. power systems are not ready for a warmer, more volatile world.

The big picture: “Our current infrastructure is not adequate when it comes to these kinds of weather extremes,” Joshua Rhodes, a University of Texas energy expert, tells Axios.

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"We must go further": 70% of adults in European Union are fully vaccinated

About 70% of adults in the European Union are fully vaccinated against COVID-19, Ursula von der Leyen, the president of the European Commission, said Tuesday.

Why it matters: The milestone makes the E.U. one of the world's leaders in inoculations, after an initially lagging vaccine campaign, the New York Times notes.

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What Elizabeth Holmes jurors will be asked ahead of fraud trial

Jury selection begins today in USA v. Elizabeth Holmes, with the actual jury trial to get underway on Sept. 8.

Why it matters: Theranos was the biggest fraud in Silicon Valley history, putting both hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of patients' health at risk.

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