Pfizer’s CEO rejected all suggestions that his company had waited until the decision on the presidential election to announce the promising results of its COVID-19 vaccine studies.
The multinational pharmaceutical company announced early Monday that its vaccine (produced in collaboration with BioNTech) against the new coronavirus has proven to be 90 percent effective. These results were better than many scientists and public health experts had hoped for. But some conspiracy theorists and the son of President Donald Trump Jr. quickly made unfounded accusations that the company had waited until after the election to announce the results.
Albert Bourla, Pfizer’s chairman and CEO, completely rejected these proposals in a Monday interview with CNN. “We announced it as soon as we heard about it,” said Bourla. “I have said several times that the election is an artificial timeline for us.
“This is when science brought it to us,” he said.
“At Pfizer, we move at the speed of science, and only science guides all decisions regarding our vaccine candidate. There are absolutely no political considerations involved in this process,” company spokeswoman Sharon Castillo said in an e-mail to Washington Newsday.
Shortly after the news became internationally known, Trump Jr. argued that the “timing” was suspicious.
“The timing is pretty amazing. There is absolutely nothing nefarious about timing”? Trump Jr. twittered.
The timing is pretty amazing. There’s nothing nefarious about the timing at all, all right? ð https://t.co/nS5rkywKXT
– Donald Trump Jr (@DonaldJTrumpJr) November 9, 2020
Trump and some of his top aides had been claiming for months that the vaccine would be ready by election day, although public health officials within his own administration said the timetable was probably too optimistic. The president’s insistence that the vaccine be ready before election day raised serious concerns among doctors, scientists and many legislators – who feared that this could lead to the approval of an unsafe vaccine.
However, Pfizer’s announcement does not mean that the COVID 19 vaccine is ready or will be approved for use by the public. The company’s study will continue into December, but the process to produce millions of doses of the vaccine is already underway. Pfizer said it plans to complete about 50 million doses by the end of the year and administer about 1.3 billion in 2021.
President-elect Joe Biden issued a statement, which was emailed on Newsday in Washington, praising the reported success of the Pfizer vaccine.
“I congratulate the brilliant men and women who have contributed to this breakthrough and give us so much hope,” said Biden. But he noted gloomily that the pandemic will continue for some time to come.
“It is also important to understand that the end of the fight against COVID-19 is still months away. This news follows a previously announced timetable by industry representatives who predict that vaccine approval will be granted by the end of November,” he said. “Even if this is achieved and some Americans are vaccinated this year, it will take many more months before there is universal immunization in this country”.