Fauci Casts Doubt on U.K. COVID Vaccine Set to Roll Out Next Week: 'They Really Rushed Through That Approval'

One day after the United Kingdom announced the approval of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci said the country's decision came too quickly.

"You know, in all fairness to so many of my U.K. friends, they kind of ran around the corner of the marathon and joined this in the last mile," the infectious diseases expert said during a Thursday interview on the CBS News podcast The Takeout With Major Garrett. "I think that would be a good metaphor for it."

He added, "They really rushed through that approval."

VIDEO: Dr. Anthony Fauci to @MajorCBS on @TakeoutPodcast: British regulators "ran around the corner of the marathon and joined it in the last mile" in approving the @pfizer covid vaccine. "They really rushed through that approval" instead of scrutinizing the data closely. pic.twitter.com/VVtugt6fCI

— The Takeout w/ Major Garrett (@TakeoutPodcast) December 3, 2020

Following approval from the U.K.'s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the European Union criticized the U.K. for hastily approving the vaccine. The European Medicines Agency (EMA), the agency overseeing the vaccine's approval in the EU, said its longer approval process requires more stringent procedures than the U.K., according to a statement reported by Reuters.

With the MHRA's approval, the U.K. became the first country to approve a COVID-19 vaccine. The green light came three weeks after Pfizer published data from the final stage of the vaccine's clinical trials, where results showed 95 percent efficacy against the coronavirus.

In announcing the approval, the MHRA said it concluded that the vaccine had "met its strict standards of safety, quality and effectiveness" after analyzing data provided by Pfizer.

The agency reiterated those points in an emailed statement to Newsweek, saying it "rigorously assessed the data in the shortest time possible, without compromising the thoroughness of the review."

On the CBS News podcast, Fauci said, "You know, I love the Brits, they're great scientists, but they just took the data from Pfizer's company and instead of scrutinizing it really, really carefully, they said, 'OK, let's approve it, that's it,' and they went with it."

He also explained why the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is taking longer to approve the vaccine.

"The FDA is the gold standard of regulation. They're doing it in a very careful way, appropriately," he said. "If we had jumped over the hurdle here quickly and inappropriately to gain an extra week or a week and a half, I think that the credibility of our regulator process would have been damaged."

Members Of Coronavirus Task Force Hold A
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, during a White House coronavirus task force press briefing on November 19. Getty/Tasos Katopodis

Later on Thursday, Fauci apologized for criticizing the U.K.'s speedy approval of the vaccine.

"I did not mean to apply any sloppiness [to the U.K. regulatory process], even though it came out that way," he said in an interview with the BBC, according to Reuters. "So if it did, I just want to set the record straight. I have a great deal of confidence in what the U.K. does, both scientifically and from a regulatory standpoint."

If the FDA grants emergency approval for Pfizer's vaccine, about 6.4 million doses will be distributed around the country, according to Operation Warp Speed officials.

Moderna, a pharmaceuticals company that has also developed a COVID-19 vaccine, applied for FDA emergency use authorization on Monday. FDA approval for both vaccines is expected this month.