‘Shutdowns or lockdowns are really not on the table,’ Biden-Harris transition team official says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 19.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, speaks during a White House Coronavirus Task Force press briefing at the White House in Washington, DC, on November 19. Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci has apologized for his apparent criticism of British regulators who have authorized the Pfizer vaccine and said he had “faith” in the UK scientific community.

There really has been a misunderstanding, and for that, I’m sorry and I apologize for that. I do have great faith in both the scientific community and the regulatory community at the UK,” Fauci told the BBC. 

“I do have confidence. It came out wrong and that was not the way I meant it to be,” he added.

Some background: The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases on Thursday said UK regulators had not scrutinized the trial data as carefully as the US Food and Drug Administration.

In an interview with CBS News, Fauci remarked that the UK authorities “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.’”

But he told the BBC later on Thursday that the US simply did things “a little bit differently” to the UK.

“We do things a certain way in the United States, possibly a little different, not necessarily better or worse than what’s done in the UK, and I think that’s where we slipped, where I slipped. I made it seem one was better than the other.”

Fauci assured everyone that ultimately, the vaccine was going to be safe and effective.

He explained that there was a lot of tension in the US over the credibility, safety and efficacy of vaccines.

“If we had, for example, approved it, yesterday or tomorrow, there likely would have been pushback on an already scrutinizing society that has really, in some respects, in the United States, too much skepticism about the process,” he said.

He said that the FDA “has gone over all of the raw data in real time, in a way that could not possibly have been done any more quickly” and it would take at least another week “to get to the point where the FDA will be able to, with confidence, make a statement regarding safety and efficacy.”

This comes as UK Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced Friday that the UK expects to have 800,000 doses of the vaccine by next week.

Speaking on Sky News, Sharma defended the UK’s rapid processing of the vaccine saying that the UK regulator is “regarded as a gold standard of regulation by international scientists and people around the world.”