American chief medical adviser has joined the EU in slamming Britain’s swift approval of the Pfizer/Biontech coronavirus vaccine.
“If you go quickly and you do it superficially, people are not going to want to get vaccinated,” America’s top immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci told Fox News. “We have the gold standard of a regulatory approach with the FDA [Food and Drug Administration].
“The UK did not do it as carefully,” he added. “They got a couple of days ahead. I don’t think that makes much difference.”
It comes after the UK yesterday became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine.
British health officials gave the green light for Pfizer and Biontech’s Covid vaccine to be rolled out to the public, after receiving a recommendation for use by the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).
Vaccines usually take around a decade from start to finish to hit the shelves, whereas the Pfizer vaccine will be rolled out just under 10 months after it was first developed.
The government has ordered 40m doses of the vaccine, with the first 800,000 — enough to vaccinate 400,000 people — set to be distributed to hospital hubs across the UK over the next few days.
Speaking at last night’s Downing Street press conference, Prime Minister Boris Johnson hailed the “biological jiu jitsu” of the vaccine, telling the public it meant the pandemic would be over by the spring.
But the EU was swift to criticise the move yesterday, saying its own procedure was more thorough.
In a terse statement yesterday the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which is in charge of approving Covid-19 vaccines for the EU, said its longer approval procedure required more checks than the emergency procedure chosen by Britain.
A spokesman for the European Commission said the EMA’s procedure was “the most effective regulatory mechanism to grant all EU citizens’ access to a safe and effective vaccine,” as it was based on more evidence.
Dr June Raine, chief executive of the UK’s MHRA, defended the rapid rollout yesterday, saying “no corners were cut” in its approval of the Pfizer vaccine.
“The way in which the MHRA has worked is equivalent to all international standards,” she added.
It comes after European regulators on Tuesday pushed back formal safety assessments of the Pfizer/Biontech and Moderna vaccines, meaning vaccinations will not take place on the continent until next year.
The EMA said it planned to decide on whether to approve the vaccine being developed by Pfizer and BioNTech by 29 December, meaning distribution will not start until 2021.
It also said it does not plan on making a ruling on the Moderna vaccine until 12 January.
Meanwhile, America’s FDA does not expect to make a decision on vaccine approvals until mid-December.