UK health regulator, the Medicines and Healthcare Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has defended its approach to the approval of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine after Anthony Fauci, the expert leading the COVID-19 response in the United States, stated that the UK "did not do it as carefully" as the US regulator would do.
"This process is designed to make sure that any vaccine approved meets the expected high standards of safety, quality, and effectiveness. No vaccine would be authorised for supply in the UK unless the expected standards of safety, quality, and efficacy are met", a spokesperson for the regulator stated.
The statement comes a day after Fauci, the US government's leading infectious disease expert, stated that the UK's approach was "much less deep" than it would have been in the US.
"The UK did not do it as carefully. They got a couple of days ahead. I don't think that makes much difference, [because] we'll be there very soon", Fauci said at the time.
The expert, however, walked back his criticism earlier on Friday, in an interview with the BBC, apologising for saying that the United Kingdom had "rushed" the approval of the vaccine candidate.
"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. I did not mean to imply any sloppiness even though it came out that way", Fauci said.
After becoming the first country in the world to approve the US-German vaccine candidate, the UK authorities announced on Wednesday that the immunisation campaign will begin as early as next week.
Russia, who became the first country to develop a coronavirus vaccine, is also set to start a large-scale vaccination campaign next week.