Britain is very excited, and it has good reason to be. While other regulatory boards around the world are crossing their Ts and dotting their Is when it comes to the coronavirus vaccine, the U.K. has issued a fast track approval for the Pfizer vaccine, and the drug will be available to nursing home residents, as well as those who care for them in the coming days.
But the U.K.’s fast-track approval has turned many people’s heads, particularly those belonging to top healthcare professionals around the world. One of those who advised caution was our own pandemic expert Dr. Anthony Fauci, who said on Fox News that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration was going about approvals in the right way, and that the U.K. might be taking things a bit too quickly (via The Guardian). Fauci had said that the FDA “really scrutinizes the data very carefully to guarantee to the American public that this is a safe and efficacious vaccine. I think if we did any less, we would add to the already existing hesitancy on the part of many people because … they’re concerned that we went too quickly.” Such caution is important in America, where a YouGov poll shows one in five respondents aren’t sure about the safety of the Pfizer vaccine- the same one that will be rolled out in Britain in the coming days (via NPR).
Dr. Fauci has since apologized for his comments
While Fauci’s comments echoed those of his fellow regulators in E.U. countries, Fauci later told the BBC that his comments had come out the wrong way.
“There really has been a misunderstanding, and for that I’m sorry, and I apologize for that,” he said. “I do have great faith in both the scientific community and the regulatory community in the U.K. I did not mean to apply any sloppiness (to the UK regulatory process), even though it came out that way,” Fauci said (via Reuters).
He also admitted that there was no way that the approval process could have gone as quickly in the United States because there was so much skepticism over the vaccines. “If we had for example approved it yesterday or tomorrow, there likely would have been pushback on an already scrutinizing society,” he said. “You know, at the end of the day, it’s going to be safe, it’s going to be effective, the people in the U.K. are going to receive it and they’re going to do really well, and the people in the United States are going to receive it and we’re going to do pretty well,” Fauci added.
Fauci is the only pandemic expert who has walked back his criticism. Other voices in the European Union have not, including German Health Minister Jens Spagn who said: “The idea is not to be first but to have a safe and effective vaccine” (via Reuters).
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