Pfizer’s chief executive has insisted the biotech company “didn’t conspire with anyone” to delay releasing its phase three trial results until after the US presidential election.
Speaking at a New York Times conference today, Albert Bourla also said the company has already hit the required safety milestone for phase three trials of the vaccine and is preparing data for submission.
Bourla’s comments come after Pfizer last week announced its experimental Covid vaccine proved 90 per cent effective in late-stage trials.
The announcement sent shockwaves across global markets on hopes that the results signalled a potential return to normality on the horizon.
But it also sparked whispers, not least from President Donald Trump, that the trial results had been delayed until the week after US presidential election on 3 November.
Despite initially cheering the news last Monday, Trump posted a series of tweets later attacking the timing of the announcement.
“As I have long said, Pfizer and the others would only announce a vaccine after the election, because they didn’t have the courage to do it before,” the Repulican said on Twitter.
“Likewise, the [Food and Drug Administration] should have announced it earlier, not for political purposes, but for saving lives!”, he added.
But Bourla maintained the US election was an “artificial deadline” and that the data was going to be ready when it was ready.
It later emerged that Bourla sold more than 130,000 Pfizer shares worth upwards of $5.6m (£4.2m) on the same day that Pfizer made its breakthrough announcement.
Sally Susman, Pfizer’s executive vice-president and chief corporate affairs officer, also sold shares worth about $1.8m.
Bourla authorised his sale for a set price in August, while Susman arranged hers in November 2019, according to Bloomberg.
In a statement, a Pfizer spokesperson said: “The sale of these shares is part of Dr Bourla’s personal financial planning and a pre-established (10b5-1) plan, which allows, under SEC rules, major shareholders and insiders of exchange-listed corporations to trade a predetermined number of shares at a predetermined time.”