After the United Kingdom became the first country in the world to give official approval for use of the Pfizer coronavirus vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci was reported as having made statements indicating that he thought the approval had been rushed and not subject to sufficient oversight.
Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is the UK near-equivalent of the FDA. Commenting on the UK’s approval for use of the Pfizer vaccine, Fauci said that the MHRA “ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile” and “rushed through that approval,” The Guardian writes.
Fauci added that the FDA had been careful to avoid a perception of “cutting corners” in light of expected public reticence to use a vaccine that has been so swiftly developed and approved.
After coming under fire for his remarks, however, Fauci backtracked and publicly apologized.
“I have a great deal of confidence in what the UK does both scientifically and from a regulatory 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 said, adding that, “I did not mean to imply any sloppiness even though it came out that way.”
June Raine, the head of the MHRA, had previously insisted that “no corners had been cut” in the approval process for the vaccine.
England’s deputy chief medical officer, Jonathan Van-Tam, also responded to the criticism, telling the BBC: “If you’re a regulator who’s slightly further behind, what do you say to justify your position that you are further behind? Words such as the ones we’ve heard perhaps.”