Infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci walked back remarks that suggested the United Kingdom had rushed its approval process of the coronavirus vaccine, numerous sources reported.
Following the U.K.’s approval of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine, making it the first country to do so, Fauci had questioned the U.K.’s regulatory process that allowed for speedy approval, according to the BBC.
Anthony Fauci, the top US infectious disease specialist, has accused the UK of rushing the approval of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine, failing to scrutinise the data https://t.co/LKIJyKWZLv pic.twitter.com/KnPyVERnUO
— Financial Times (@FinancialTimes) December 3, 2020
“In all fairness to so many of my U.K. friends, they kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined in at the last mile,” Fauci said on “The Takeout” podcast. “I think that would be a good metaphor for it … because they really rushed through that approval.” (RELATED: Fauci Bashes UK Because ‘They Really Rushed’ Approval For Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine)
Dr. Anthony Fauci criticized UK regulators for the swift approval of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine, saying they did not scrutinize the data carefully enough https://t.co/pf6vJXydyE pic.twitter.com/vZgn20SrNs
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 3, 2020
He later apologized for the suggestion that the U.K. did not handle the process with as much care as the U.S. has, saying there was “no judgement on the way the UK did it.”
“I have a great deal of confidence in what the UK does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint,” he told the BBC. “Our process is one that takes more time than it takes in the UK. And that’s just the reality,” he added. “I did not mean to imply any sloppiness even though it came out that way.”
Fauci explained that U.S. regulators have to move at a slower pace, especially given to the public’s skepticism of the vaccine, which may be approved on a timeline that is relatively short when compared to past vaccines.
For example, after Hepatitis B was discovered in 1965, it took until 1981 for a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved vaccine. Most drugs take roughly a decade of evaluation and extensive testing before they make it to the market.
The U.K.’s health officials affirmed their commitment to a regulatory process that prioritizes the safety of the drugs the government approves, saying that any approved vaccine has undergone “robust clinical trials in line with international standards.”
“No vaccine would be authorised for supply in the UK unless the expected standards of safety, quality and efficacy are met,” the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency said, according to the BBC.
The Pfizer vaccine, developed in partnership with the German drug maker BioNTech, is slated to begin distribution across Britain next week, with an initial batch distributed to frontline health care workers, long-term care residents and the elderly. Pfizer requested FDA approval Nov. 20.
The U.S., however, is not far behind. While states have not been given a firm date of the vaccine’s shipment, they are preparing to receive them as early as Dec. 11, the day after a meeting focusing on the authorization of the vaccine.
Moderna has developed another promising vaccine, which the company said had an overall efficacy of 94.1% and was 100% effective in preventing severe cases of coronavirus. Moderna announced Monday that it would submit its vaccine to the FDA for approval, making it the second to do so.