LONDON (Reuters) – American infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci apologized on Thursday for questioning the austerity of British regulators who approved Pfizer Inc’s vaccination against COVID-19, saying he believed in the quality of their work.
Britain announced approval for the vaccine on Wednesday, according to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), it rigorously evaluated the vaccine data and did not deviate from the corners.
This has given the UK the competition to mass-vaccinate the virus, which has killed nearly 1.5 million people worldwide and shaken the world economy. Regulators in the United States and the European Union are stabbing the same data from Pfizer vaccination trials, but have not yet given their approval.
In an interview with CBS on Thursday, Fauci suggested that British regulators should not have scrutinized the data thoroughly and allowed the vaccination – comments that were prominently reported by major British TV feeds.
He later gave an interview to the BBC in which he said his earlier remarks had come out wrong.
“There really was a misunderstanding, so I’m sorry and that’s why I apologize,” he said. “I have great faith in both the UK scientific community and the regulatory community,” Fauci said.
“I didn’t want to apply any laxity (to the UK regulatory process), even though it came out that way,” he added.
According to Fauci, the point he was trying to articulate was that in the context of the United States, with widespread vaccination skepticism, it would not have been appropriate to carry out the process in the same way and at the same pace as what had happened in Britain.
“For example, if we had approved yesterday or tomorrow, a society that was already under investigation would probably have been set back,” he said.
“You know, at the end of the day, it will be safe, it will be effective, the people of the UK will get it and they will do it very well, and we will get it in the United States and we will do pretty well,” Fauci said.
In response to its previous criticism, the MHRA issued a statement stating that it “rigorously evaluated the data as soon as possible without compromising the thoroughness of our review”.
The regulator also said its emergency approval allowed “certain stages of this process to take place in parallel to condense the time required, but that did not mean taking steps and circumventing expected safety, quality and efficiency standards”.
Fauci is the most prevalent member of the White House’s coronavirus task force and has often clashed with President Donald Trump about how to protect Americans from the virus, which has caused some 273,000 American deaths.
President-elect Joe Biden said on Thursday that when he took office on January 20, he had asked Fauci to be the chief health advisor to the COVID-19 team. [nW1N2HQ0GG]
Estelle Shirbon’s account; Edited by Bill Berkrot and Peter Cooney