The infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has apologized after suggesting that the UK has been too quick to approve Pfizer’s COVID 19 vaccine.
” You know, in all fairness to so many of my British friends, they kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile,” Fauci said during an interview on Thursday in CBS News podcast The Takeout With Major Garrett. “I think that would be a good metaphor for that.” He also said that “they really rushed through that permit.
Later, Fauci went back to the comments and said there was “no judgment on how Britain did it”.
“I have great confidence in what the UK is doing, both scientifically and from a regulatory point of view,” he told the BBC. “Our trial is a process that takes more time than the UK, and that is simply the reality. I didn’t want to imply any sloppiness, even if it came out that way.
Fauci’s remarks came when the US exceeded 14 million COVID 19 infections and 276,325 deaths were recorded. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a different drug approval process, and Fauci explained that it takes longer to approve the Pfizer vaccine because “the FDA is the gold standard of regulation”.
He said, “They do it in a very careful way, appropriately. If we had jumped the hurdle here quickly and inappropriately to gain an extra week or a week and a half, I believe the credibility of our regulatory process would have been damaged”.
On Thursday, he made it clear that the US is “doing things a little bit differently” than the UK. “That is all,” he said. “No better, no worse, just different.”
The FDA plans to meet on December 10 to discuss approval of Pfizer’s vaccine and will meet again on December 17 to discuss a second vaccine from Moderna. Dr June Raine, the head of the UK Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Authority (MHRA), said that the review of the vaccine “did not cut corners” and said it was “very disappointing and frankly irresponsible” to cast doubt on the world’s leading regulator.
The UK’s Deputy Chief Medical Officer, Professor Jonathan Van-Tam, told the BBC that he was “very confident” in the vaccine regulator and that there are more than “100 years of medical experience” between the MHRA and the committee that advises which groups of people will be vaccinated first.
The approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine by the MHRA made the UK the first country in the world to give the green light for a COVID 19 vaccine. This came three weeks after Pfizer published data from the final phase of clinical trials of the vaccine, the results of which showed 95% efficacy against coronavirus.
When the approval was announced, the MHRA concluded, after analyzing the data submitted by Pfizer, that the vaccine “met its stringent safety, quality and efficacy standards”. The agency reiterated these points in an e-mail statement to Washington Newsday, saying it had “rigorously evaluated the data in a very short period of time without compromising the thoroughness of the review.
Fauci’s statement came after the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which oversees the approval of the vaccine in the European Union, said in a statement reported by Reuters that the longer approval process required stricter procedures than in the UK. The EMA will meet on December 29 to determine whether sufficient safety data on the vaccine is available to allow it to be approved in Europe. Once the authority has approved the vaccine, it will probably also need the approval of the EU Commission.