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The international community has raised eyebrows over how quickly the UK approved a Covid-19 vaccine, with America’s top infectious disease expert questioning the level of scrutiny. Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, claimed American regulators “would do a more thorough job” of assessing the vaccine developed by Pfizer/BioNTech. While the World Health Organisation (WHO) offered a toned-down response to the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency’s (MHRA) decision, simply stating the approval had been “acknowledged”.
German MEP, Dr Peter Liese, clashed with the host on Sky News while criticising the decision.
Speaking to Sky News, he said: “It has nothing to do with bureaucracy, it’s to do with safety.”
Host Mark Austin interjected: “But the European Medicines Agency was based in London because of the UK’s leading role in evaluating new medicines and new vaccines.
“Are you saying suddenly you don’t trust British regulators and scientists?”
Dr Liese continued: “No! Please don’t interpret me wrong.
“You make me really angry when you say words I didn’t say.
“The authorities are doing their job but the emergency authorisation has a lower quality than the conditional market licensing EMA will do.
“It’s a different quality and not a difference in the quality of the authority or the people that are doing the job.”
His comments come as Gavin Williamson praised the work done by the medical regulator to approve the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine for use.
The Education Secretary said the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has “brilliant” experts.
The European regulator has criticised the approval of the vaccine using emergency powers, insisting that its own, slower approach is more appropriate.
Mr Williamson said the UK’s status as the first country to approve a vaccine is due to its superior experts.
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He told LBC: “I just reckon we’ve got the very best people in this country and we’ve obviously got the best medical regulator, much better than the French have, much better than the Belgians have, much better than the Americans have.
“That doesn’t surprise me at because we’re a much better country than every single one of them.”
However, unlike Health Secretary Matt Hancock, Mr Williamson did not suggest that Brexit had directly contributed.
“I think just being able to get on with things, deliver it and the brilliant people in our medical regulator making it happen means that people in this country are going to be the first ones in the western world to get that Pfizer vaccine,” he said.
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