Anthony Fauci Photograph:( Reuters )
'I did not mean to imply any sloppiness even though it came out that way, said Dr. Anthony Fauci after criticising UK's approval of COVID-19 vaccine
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the White House expert on the coronavirus pandemic, had earlier criticised the UK for rushing to approve the COVID-19 vaccine, alleging a failure to scrutinize data from the manufacturers.
"They kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile," he said in a local interview. "They really rushed through that approval."
The statement came after the UK became the first country in the world to approve a coronavirus vaccine for the general public. The vaccine has been jointly developed by the American drugmaker Pfizer and Germany's BioNTech.
"I love the Brits, they're great, they're good scientists, but they just took the data from the Pfizer company and instead of scrutinizing it really, really carefully, they said, 'OK, let's approve it, that's it.' And they went with it," Fauci had said. "In fact, they were even rather severely criticized by their European Union counterparts who were saying, you know, 'That was kind of a hot dog play.' I didn't say that they did."
Fauci's statement faced an extreme backlash from experts and the general public who believe this statement could raise serious doubts in minds of people and make them sceptical about using the vaccine to fight off the deadly virus. The British regulatory agency also dismissed Fauci's claims saying their experts had "rigorously assessed the data in the shortest time possible without compromising the thoroughness of our review."
After the criticism, Fauci backtracked on his statements claiming his comment was a "misunderstanding". He claims his comments simply meant that in the context of his own country, US, it would not have been appropriate to conduct the process in the same way and at the same speed as what happened in Britain, considering the population difference and the intensity of the spread of the virus in the US.
"There really has been a misunderstanding. I apologize for that," he later said. "I do have great faith in the scientific community and regulatory community in the UK." He told the BBC there was "no judgment on the way the UK did it."
"Our process is one that takes more time than it takes in the UK. And that's just the reality," he continued. "I did not mean to imply any sloppiness even though it came out that way."
He had also talked about vaccine development and approval by the US' Food and Drug Administration (FDA). "They're doing it in a very careful way, appropriately," he said. "Because if we did anything that was cutting corners and rushing — we have enough problems with people being sceptical about taking a vaccine anyway — if we had jumped over the hurdle here quickly and inappropriately to gain an extra week or a week and a half I think that the credibility of our regulatory process would have been damaged."