Leading American infectious disease scientist Dr Anthony Fauci on Thursday walked back his criticism of Britain’s drug regulator after saying it had rushed through its coronavirus vaccine approval.
His comments came a day after Britain became the first country to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine for general use, prompting some scepticism among the country European neighbours and suggestions of politicisation.
Widely respected Dr Fauci, who leads the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told the BBC: “I have a great deal of confidence in what the UK does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint.”
“Our process is one that takes more time than it takes in the UK. And that’s just the reality,” he said, adding: “I did not mean to imply any sloppiness even though it came out that way.”
Dr Fauci had earlier described Britain’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) as having “ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile” and “rushed through that approval.”
He contrasted that with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which he said had been careful to avoid “cutting corners” because it did not want to fuel vaccine scepticism.
“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,'” Dr Fauci had said.