Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, who has enthusiastically promised to know by the end of this month whether the company’s coronavirus vaccine will work, tried to distance himself and his company from politics Thursday.
“The amplified political rhetoric around vaccine development, timing and political credit is undercutting public confidence,” Bourla said in a letter to Pfizer employees posted online Thursday.
He said the debate this week between US President Donald Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden made the issue too overtly political.
“Once more, I was disappointed that the prevention for a deadly disease was discussed in political terms rather than scientific facts. People, who are understandably confused, don’t know whom or what to believe,” Bourla wrote in the letter.
Bourla said Pfizer was racing to make a vaccine for the good of the world.
“Now, we are approaching our goal and despite not having any political considerations with our preannounced date, we find ourselves in the crucible of the US Presidential election,” he wrote.
“In this hyperpartisan year, there are some who would like us to move more quickly and others who argue for delay. Neither of those options are acceptable to me."
Bourla added: "We would never succumb to political pressure."
“I can’t predict exactly when, or even if our vaccine will be approved by the FDA for distribution to the public. But I do know that the world will be safer if we stop talking about the vaccines’ delivery in political terms and focus instead on a rigorous independent scientific evaluation and a robust independent approval process.”
Trump has claimed a vaccine could be ready before Election Day on November 3. Most vaccine manufacturers and public health experts, including Trump’s own advisers, have said that’s unlikely.
But Bourla has repeatedly promised his company will know whether its vaccine protects people from coronavirus by the end of October.