The boss of the pharmaceutical giant behind the world’s first Covid-19 vaccine has hit out at foreign critics of the UK’s rapid approval of the drug.
Ben Osborn, the UK chief executive of Pfizer, told The Mail on Sunday that he is so confident about the safety of the jab that he is ‘willing to take it today’ and wants his mother to have it as soon as possible, too.
He also admitted to being disappointed that the roll-out had been ‘politicised’ after the vaccine, developed with the German firm BioNTech, got the green light for use in the UK before regulators in Europe and America had acted.
American immunologist Dr Anthony Fauci, a key member of President Donald Trump‘s coronavirus task force, angered Ministers in Britain by claiming that the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency had not reviewed the vaccine ‘as carefully’ as its US counterparts. He later withdrew his remarks.
Ben Osborn, the UK chief executive of Pfizer, told The Mail on Sunday that he is so confident about the safety of the jab that he is ‘willing to take it today’ and wants his mother to have it as soon as possible, too
‘I was disappointed, although not surprised,’ Mr Osborn said. ‘It is frustrating that science has won here, and we’re starting to mix politics and science. That’s like oil and water to me. It is not a good mix.’
Around 800,000 doses of the vaccine will have been shipped from Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Belgium to the UK by Tuesday when the first jabs are administered.
Last night, Public Health England issued photographs of a line of high-tech freezers at a secure location ready to store thousands of doses of the vaccine.
Meanwhile, Mr Osborn said he had been dismayed by false anti-vaccine scare stories on social media. ‘We need to understand and stop, frankly, some of the misinformation,’ he said.
‘I’ve been really disappointed to see the number of pieces on social media that are just not correct, they’re simply lies.’ Nonetheless, he said he was ‘confident’ in the work being done by Government to stop the spread of misinformation.
While the 43-year-old will not take the vaccine until his priority group is reached, he added: ‘I would willingly take it today. I hope that my mother who is high up the priority list will be in a position to either receive our vaccine or potentially one of the others, subject to their authorisation in the coming weeks. I have no hesitation in recommending my own family to get into the queue as soon as they’re called.’
Pfizer has promised to provide the UK with 40 million doses by the end of next year, despite fears that a shortage of raw materials could hamper production
Pfizer has promised to provide the UK with 40 million doses by the end of next year, despite fears that a shortage of raw materials could hamper production.
No 10 has said the UK would get 10 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech jab by the end of next year, but reports yesterday warned it could be as few as four million because of the ‘fairly restricted’ supply of fat droplets used to carry the crucial RNA molecules.
A Government spokesman last night said: ‘We are in discussions with Pfizer and BioNTech about how many doses could be provided to the UK by the end of the year.’
Mr Osborn also said his scientists have already begun work on the next version of the vaccine, which may not require such specialist refrigeration.