Top Democrat Nancy Pelosi expresses concern over UK approach to approving Covid-19 vaccine
Nancy Pelosi is the Speaker of the House of Representatives - Stefani Reynolds / Bloomberg
A Democratic Party leader has openly criticized the UK's system of licensing a Covid-19 vaccine, pointing out that the process of ensuring its safety is not as strict as America's.
Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic spokeswoman for the House of Representatives - half of the US Congress - made an unexpected statement during a press conference Friday.
She said people need to be "very careful" about UK efforts to get a vaccine approved, suggesting that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has stricter criteria for screening a vaccine than the UK equivalent.
Oxford University and pharmaceutical company AstraZeneca are working together on a potential vaccine against Covid-19 and are further on the trial schedule than other similar vaccines others are working on.
The timing of the comments suggests that there might be some reflection on political calculations as Mr Trump appears ready to declare that a coronavirus vaccine has been secured ahead of the election and one of the UK's leading candidates is under investigation.
Ms Pelosi is also known in the past as a critic of Boris Johnson and recently warned that the Prime Minister should push through his proposal to rewrite parts of Brexit. The withdrawal agreement could jeopardize a free trade agreement between the UK and the US.
Mr Pelosi said: "I think we have to be very careful about what is happening in the UK.
"We have very strict rules here about the Food and Drug Administration about the number of clinical trials, timing, number of people, and everyone else so that when a drug is approved by the FDA and the Scientific Advisory Board, it is if it is safe and effective, the American people will have the confidence to take it.
“Vaccines are about trust and we want people to take it.
“So we pray that it will be soon, the sooner the better, not a day earlier than it is safe and effective, but not a day later either.
"And I am concerned that the UK system for this type of judgment is not comparable to ours in the US.
"If Boris Johnson decides to approve a drug and that president accepts it, that is the concern I have about any similarity between the two."
A spokesman for the UK Department of Health and Welfare replied: "The UK has some of the world's most robust standards for approving new treatments and vaccines.
"Every vaccine must undergo clinical trials in accordance with international standards and be independently monitored by the Medicines and Health Products Regulatory Authority, which has extensive experience in ensuring the delivery of safe and effective vaccines."
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