Anthony Fauci, the US government’s top infectious disease specialist, slammed the UK drugs regulator, saying he rushed to eliminate the COVID-19 vaccine Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE.
The British watchdog, called the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Agency, said on Wednesday it had approved the Pfizer vaccine. This means that the shot will likely be used in Britain before the United States and the European Union.
“They are great, they are good scientists,” Fauci said in an interview with CBS News, according to a transcript. “But they just took the data from the Pfizer company and instead of looking at it really, really carefully [t]hey said, ‘OK, let’s approve it. That’s it.'”
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The US Food and Drug Administration has been criticized by President Donald Trump because no COVID vaccine was approved before the election in which he was defeated by President-elect Joe Biden. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn and other health officials have said that a careful and transparent approval process is essential to ensure public confidence in the vaccine that will be necessary for a successful vaccination campaign.
The UK “kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile,” Fauci told CBS. “They really rushed to get that approval.”
Fauci later attempted to clarify his words.
“Our process is taking longer than in the UK,” Fauci told the BBC, according to a Washington Post report. “It’s just the reality. I didn’t mean to imply negligence, even though it happened that way.
The UK Department for Health and Welfare tweeted a clip of MHRA CEO June Raine on Thursday defending the regulator’s methods, saying that a “continuous review” process allowed it to act quickly to approve the vaccine.
“Continuous review can be used to complete the evaluation of a promising drug or vaccine in a time-critical situation, in the shortest possible time,” she said. “But, and this is a very important point indeed, it does not mean that corners have been cut. Not at all.”
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