Pfizer CEO pledges politics won't sway COVID-19 vaccine development

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, PhD, pledged that the drugmaker wouldn't be pressured politically to speed up development of its experimental COVID-19 vaccine in an internal memo sent to staff following the Sept. 29 presidential debate, The Hill reported. 

In the memo, sent to employees Oct. 1, Dr. Bourla said he was "disappointed" that the COVID-19 vaccine was discussed in political terms at the debate. 

"Tuesday night I joined the millions of Americans who tuned in to the presidential debate. Once more, I was disappointed that the prevention for a deadly disease was discussed in political terms rather than scientific facts," he wrote. 

President Donald Trump said during the debate that the U.S. is "weeks away from a vaccine." But there is no way to know for sure when a vaccine will be ready until there is sufficient data from clinical trials, The Hill reported.  

Dr. Bourla has said Pfizer could apply for authorization as soon as October, but wrote in the memo that he'd neither speed up nor slow down the process because of politics. 

"We would never succumb to political pressure. The only pressure we feel — and it weighs heavy — are the billions of people, millions of businesses and hundreds of government officials that are depending on us. We've engaged with many elected leaders around the globe through this health crisis, but Pfizer took no investment money from any government. Our independence is a precious asset," he wrote, according to The Hill. 

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