British health regulators on Wednesday authorised the use of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for public inoculation against the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), drawing criticism from US’ top infectious disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci. The United Kingdom became the first country to approve Pfizer’s vaccine, BNT162b2, which has shown an efficacy rate of 95 per cent, while the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is yet to provide emergency use authorisation to the biotech firms.
Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, opined that the UK regulators did not scrutinise the data as carefully as the FDA is carrying out in its review. Speaking to Fox News, Dr Fauci said that the FDA is doing “the correct way”, asserting that the US agency scrutinises the data “very carefully” to guarantee a safe and efficacious vaccine.
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The top health expert further said that rushing to approval would add to the “existing hesitancy” as many people are concerned about the safety of the vaccine. He boasted that the United States has the “gold standard” of a regulatory approach and the UK did not do it as carefully which helped them get ahead by a couple of days.
“I don’t think that makes much difference. We’ll be there. We’ll be there very soon,” Dr Fauci added.
Meanwhile, UK government ministers and health experts have said that all required procedures were followed to approve Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine. Education secretary Gavin Williamson claimed that Britain has better medical regulators that France, Belgium, and the United States and that’s why it was able to approve the vaccine before other countries.
“That doesn’t surprise me at all because we’re a much better country than every single one of them,” Williamson told LBC.
Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE expect to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses globally in 2020 and up to 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021. Pfizer’s vaccine candidate needs ultra-cold storage at around minus 75°C and can be kept in the fridge for five days. An independent panel of experts is scheduled to meet on December 10 to discuss and review Pfizer’s application and could authorise the jab in the US soon after that date.
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