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the coronavirus crisis

Fauci says AstraZeneca made 'unforced error,' but vaccine still looks 'very good'

AstraZeneca made an "unforced error" when it recently announced COVID-19 vaccine trial data, even though the vaccine itself appears likely to be "very good," according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.

Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, spoke on Good Morning America on Tuesday after the NIAID released an unusual statement saying an independent monitoring board was "concerned" that AstraZeneca "may have included outdated information" when it issued a press release about initial data from a trial of its COVID-19 vaccine, "which may have provided an incomplete view." Fauci called the situation unfortunate and expressed concern it could contribute to vaccine hesitancy.

"It really is unfortunate that this happened," Fauci told GMA. "This is really what you call an unforced error because the fact is this is very likely a very good vaccine, and this kind of thing does, as you say, do nothing but really cast some doubt about the vaccines and maybe contribute to the hesitancy. It was not necessary. If you look at it, the data really are quite good, but when they put it into the press release, it wasn't completely accurate."

But Fauci suggested this AstraZeneca situation should ultimately make Americans more, not less, confident in the vaccine approval process. After all, he noted that the issue being quickly flagged by the independent monitoring board demonstrates "that there are safeguards in place," and he added Americans can be confident the FDA will independently review the data before potentially approving the AstraZeneca vaccine.

After the NIAID statement, AstraZeneca said Tuesday that the numbers it previously provided were based on data up to Feb. 17, but it will "immediately engage" with the independent data safety monitoring board "to share our primary analysis with the most up to date efficacy data." Brendan Morrow