As Pfizer tries to push ahead with a possible release of its coronavirus vaccine candidate ahead of the presidential election, the company is trying to garner support from health experts concerned that the company is moving too fast because of political pressure.
Politico reports the company is trying to win over support from critical health experts by convincing them they aren’t skirting safety regulations.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla has said the company will know whether the vaccine is viable this month. It is unlikely the company will be able to meet the Food and Drug Administration’s new standards for vaccine safety data before the election, according to Politico.
Trump has accused the FDA of playing politics in issuing its new, stringent guidelines.
“I think we should have it before the election, but frankly the politics gets involved,” Trump said this week about a possible vaccine before the election. “They want to play their game.”
In an effort to pump its vaccine candidate out, Pfizer is looking to get support from leaders in the health industry.
Top scientists from the company met with Eric Topol last week, according to Politico. The well-known cardiologist and public health expert has been vocal about the company’s vaccine plans in opinion pieces and on Twitter.
“They want to have the medical community be supportive of their program,” Topol said of Pfizer’s efforts. “They could’ve just written me off, but they actually reached out, and I give them credit for that.”
Pfizer has also set up a one-on-one briefing between Bourla and Ezekiel Emanuel, an adviser to Joe Biden, after he organized a widely circulated letter asking the company to hold off on seeking any vaccine authorization until “at least late November.”
Emanuel and Topol’s letter was signed by more than 60 other scientists who also voiced concerns about Pfizer’s vaccine plan.
Pfizer is also trying to keep its distance from the presidential election. It has insisted its vaccine has been moving at the “speed of science” and its timing has nothing to do with political pressure.
“Now, we are approaching our goal and despite not having any political considerations with our pre-announced date, we find ourselves in the crucible of the U.S. Presidential election,” Bourla wrote in a memo to staff this month. “We would never succumb to political pressure.”
Emanuel told Politico he is concerned that Pfizer will try to get around the FDA standards in an attempt to bring the first coronavirus vaccine to market.
“I want them to adhere to what we asked for in the letter — which is minimum two months’ safety data,” Emanuel said. “It seems to be if you are going to ask hundreds of millions of people to take your vaccines, two months’ safety data is not too much to ask.”
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