America’s top infectious disease expert has rowed back from a suggestion that the UK approved a Covid-19 vaccine too quickly.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, claimed American regulators “would do a more thorough job” of assessing the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech.
He told CBS News that Britain “kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile”, adding: “They really rushed through that approval.”
Dr Fauci said: “The FDA, the United States of America Food and Drug Administration, is the gold standard of regulation. They are doing it in a careful way, appropriately.”
He warned that the speed at which the UK has approved the Pfizer vaccine could undermine confidence in the jab, telling Sky News: “When we did a survey here in the US, there was a considerable degree of scepticism and reluctance to get vaccinated and we were concerned that if we did anything that looked like it was cutting corners that would feed into the scepticism.”
But in a later interview with BBC News, Dr Fauci said he did not mean to “imply any sloppiness”, adding: “I do have great faith in both the scientific community and the regulatory community at the UK.”
He said there was “no judgement on the way the UK did it”.
Dr Fauci told the BBC: “Our process is one that takes more time than it takes in the UK. And that’s just the reality. I did not mean to imply any sloppiness even though it came out that way.”
The comments came as the coronavirus death toll in the UK passed the 60,000 mark, jumping to 60,113 on Thursday.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) offered a toned down response to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) decision, simply stating the approval had been “acknowledged”.
In response to the comments, the MHRA said in a statement: “We have rigorously assessed the data in the shortest time possible, without compromising the...