- White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has walked back an apparent criticism of the UK over its fast approval of the first coronavirus vaccine shots to its citizens, putting it ahead of the US.
- Dr. Fauci said his larger point was that he wanted people in the US to feel that all the necessary precautions are being taken here to ensure that the coronavirus vaccine is safe for everyone to take.
- On Tuesday, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order meant to ensure that Americans get first dibs at coronavirus vaccines that are developed here before they’re used to aid people in the rest of the world.
When it comes to the coronavirus vaccine, White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci’s words carry immense weight with millions of people. He’s seen as a rare voice of authority in an administration that’s been bereft of officials who’ve been able to convey a sense of command and sufficient control over the US response to the COVID-19 outbreak. Lately, everyone has been hanging on everything Dr. Fauci says about the myriad coronavirus vaccine candidates that are racing to score regulatory approval, with no less than President-elect Joe Biden saying that once Dr. Fauci says a vaccine is safe, “I’ll take it.”
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One thing that’s been a little unusual to see from Dr. Fauci, because he’s a scientist who tries to have an abundance of data to back up the pronouncements that he makes, is any kind of backtracking or apology for getting too far over his skis during the course of the pandemic. But that’s just what he did a few days ago, when Dr. Fauci was asked why the UK is ahead of the US in the vaccination process, with the former preparing to administer the coronavirus vaccine to its citizens:
Dr. Fauci addressed this during a December 3 appearance on The Takeout podcast with CBS News chief Washington correspondent Major Garrett. In response to a question from Garrett about why the British appear to be first, Fauci laughed: “In all fairness to so many of my UK friends, you know, they kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile. I think that would be a good metaphor for it, Major, because they really rushed through that approval.”
Britain has some great scientists, Dr. Fauci continued. But, he went on: “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.”
What Dr. Fauci was really wanting to do, it turns out, was make a point about how much stricter the regulatory process is here in the US, to help instill a greater sense of comfort among the public that the vaccine will be safe and effective. In fact, he decided to go on the BBC, no less, to apologize for making it sound like he was downplaying the UK regulatory process — which he said is not better than the US’, and not worse, “just different.”
“In the United States, there is such a considerable amount of tension, of pushing back on the credibility of the safety and of the efficacy,” Dr. Fauci said. If US regulators had moved as quickly as those in the UK did, he continued, there “would be pushback (from) an already scrutinizing society that has really, I think in some respects in the United States, too much skepticism about the process.”
Andy is a reporter in Memphis who also contributes to outlets like Fast Company and The Guardian. When he’s not writing about technology, he can be found hunched protectively over his burgeoning collection of vinyl, as well as nursing his Whovianism and bingeing on a variety of TV shows you probably don’t like.