The Slatest

Pfizer CEO Says COVID Vaccine Will Not Be Ready by Election Day

Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk past Pfizer Inc. headquarters in New York City.
Pedestrians wearing protective masks walk past Pfizer Inc. headquarters in New York City. Jeenah Moon/Getty Images

Part of President Donald Trump’s pitch to voters, if you can even call it that, is that he’s personally hard at work shepherding a vaccine from the minds of American scientists into the arms of American voters—all by Election Day! Vote Trump or die! This has, of course, always been a ludicrous proposition based on a farcical timetable, all made even more preposterous by the underlying fact that the “miracle cure by Nov. 3” approach is basically the sole plank of the Trump Plan to combat the virus. That’s it, the whole enchilada. To make that happen, Trump needed something drug-sounding he could pass off as an imminent something-or-other that you could (soon!) get jabbed in your arm. The Trump administration was trying to pave the way for Pfizer to pull a rabbit out of its hat by the first Tuesday in November, but, on Friday, even Pfizer admitted it isn’t going to happen.

“I know there is a great deal of confusion regarding exactly what it will take to ensure its development and approval, and given the critical public health considerations and the importance of transparency, I would like to provide greater clarity around the development timelines for Pfizer’s and our partner BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine,” Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla wrote Friday in an open letter. “So let me be clear, assuming positive data, Pfizer will apply for Emergency Authorization Use in the U.S. soon after the safety milestone is achieved in the third week of November. All the data contained in our U.S. application would be reviewed not only by the FDA’s own scientists but also by an external panel of independent experts at a publicly held meeting convened by the agency.”

This is good news! A potential vaccine candidate appears to be approaching the threshold of efficacy and safety that could mean it will be able to combat the virus sooner rather than later. Let’s not let an American president, potentially in his final days of office, allow us to take our eyes off the road to recovery.