Last month, President Trump hinted that a COVID-19 vaccine could be available before Election Day, but the latest news from one of the leading developers seems to make that possibility even more remote. As the Wall Street Journal reports, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla posted an open letter Friday announcing that, if safety and efficacy for its vaccine is proven in the late-stage trials now taking place, and if the vaccine can be mass-produced at the right consistency and quality, the company will apply for emergency authorization use for the vaccine in the US soon after the third week of November. The New York Times calls this announcement a "shift in tone," as up till now, Bourla's messaging had been syncing with Trump's in regard to a possible October timeline.
The Times notes Pfizer has been the most aggressive of the companies currently testing vaccines in late-stage clinical trials in the US; Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and AstraZeneca have all suggested that later in the year is a more realistic timeline to get a vaccine in use. Bourla mentions in his letter that he posted it "to ensure public trust and clear up a great deal of confusion," as some had worried Pfizer might be allowing itself to get caught up in a politically motivated push to get the vaccine out. "We are operating at the speed of science," he writes, but not at the expense of the vaccine's safety and efficacy. He notes all data in the vaccine application will be reviewed by FDA scientists, as well as a panel of independent experts. "This is good, really good," Dr. Eric Topol, a scientist who signed a letter urging Pfizer not to go faster than it needed to, tells the Times, noting Bourla's letter is another sign that Pfizer is not being driven by "political machinations." (Read more Pfizer stories.)