Pfizer de­lays virus vac­cine OK un­til at least mid- Novem­ber

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Covid-19 Pandemic - By Katie Thomas and Noah Weiland

The chief ex­ec­u­tive of Pfizer said on Fri­day that the com­pany would not ap­ply for emer­gency au­tho­riza­tion of its coron­avirus vac­cine be­fore the third week of Novem­ber, rul­ing out Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s as­ser­tion that a vac­cine would be ready be­fore Elec­tion Day on Nov. 3.

In a state­ment posted to the com­pany web­site, the chief ex­ec­u­tive, Dr. Al­bert Bourla, said that al­though Pfizer could have pre­lim­i­nary num­bers by the end of Oc­to­ber about whether the vac­cine works, it would still need to col­lect safety and man­u­fac­tur­ing data that will stretch the time­line to at least the third week of Novem­ber.

Close watch­ers of the vac­cine race had al­ready known that Pfizer wouldn’t be able to meet the re­quire­ments of the Food and Drug Ad­min­is­tra­tion by the end of this month. But Fri­day’s an­nounce­ment rep­re­sents a shift in tone for the com­pany and its leader, who has re­peat­edly em­pha­sized the month of Oc­to­ber in in­ter­views and pub­lic ap­pear­ances.

In do­ing so, the com­pany had aligned its mes­sag­ing with that of the pres­i­dent, who has made no se­cret of his de­sire for an ap­proved vac­cine be­fore the elec­tion. He has even sin­gled out the com­pany by name and said he had talked to Dr. Bourla, whom he called a “great guy.”

Some sci­en­tists ap­plauded Pfizer’s an­nounce­ment.

“This is good, re­ally good,” said Dr. Eric Topol, a clin­i­cal trial ex­pert at Scripps Re­search in San Diego who was one of 60 pub­lic health of­fi­cials and oth­ers in the med­i­cal com­mu­nity who signed a let­ter to Pfizer urg­ing it not to rush its vac­cine.

He said com­pany of­fi­cials had as­sured him that a vac­cine would most likely not be au­tho­rized be­fore the elec­tion, but the let­ter Fri­day is “even more solid about their not be­ing part of any po­lit­i­cal machi­na­tions.”

Dr. Bourla has pushed back against any sug­ges­tion that Pfizer’s vac­cine time­line was po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated. In Septem­ber, Pfizer was the driv­ing force be­hind a pledge by nine vac­cine com­pa­nies to “stand with science” and not put for­ward any­thing that had not been prop­erly vet­ted. Ear­lier this month, he pub­lished an open let­ter to em­ploy­ees that said he “would never suc­cumb to po­lit­i­cal pres­sure” and ex­press­ing dis­ap­point­ment that “we find our­selves in the cru­cible of the U. S. pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.”

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