Fauci discusses concerns about Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine data

The NIAID director addresses growing concern that AstraZeneca may have included outdated information in its trial results and what this means for Americans.
5:55 | 03/23/21

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Transcript for Fauci discusses concerns about Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine data
Joining us is Dr. Anthony Fauci, he is the chief medical adviser to president Biden and as always, Dr. Fauci, we appreciate you taking time to speak with us and we want to start with that new report we just heard this morning, that major concern that astrazeneca may have included outdated information in its trial results. How did that happen and what could this mean about its possible effectiveness? Well, what happened, robin, is that the data that are analyzed from any given trial go through what's called a data and safety monitoring board which is an independent group of people who are experienced and who look at the data. When the data from the az trial conducted predominantly in the United States was analyzed, what happened is the company put out a press release giving data and making some conclusions about the efficacy, and the data and safety monitoring board when they saw that press release, they got concerned and wrote a rather harsh note to them and with a copy to me saying that, in fact, they felt that the data that was in the press release were somewhat outdated and might, in fact, be misleading a bit, and wanted them to straighten it out. On the basis of that we put out the release that you just showed that essentially told the company they better get back with the dsmv and make sure the correct data get put into a press release. It doesn't help. People are already hesitant when it comes to vaccination and this one in particular given what we've seen in Europe with astrazeneca, that vaccine being suspended for a time so how do you address those concerns, especially if this becomes of use here in the U.S.? You know, robin, it really is unfortunate that this happened. You know, 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 are quite good but when they put it into the press release it wasn't completely accurate so we have to keep essentially trying as hard as we can to get people to understand that there are safeguards in place and I think the data and safety monitoring board picking up this discrepancy was an example of the safeguard and at the end of the day, robin, all of this is going to be decided by the fda. They will independently go over every bit of data themselves and not rely on any interpretation from anyone including the company. So that's one thing that the American public should realize and probably the global public also that our fda independently goes over that data, so that's something you don't need to be worried about. What is the number one concern you're hearing from folks when it comes to vaccinations overall and how do you address those coerns? Well, you know, robin, one of the things that people are concerned about that I think we can get around by essentially taking the time to explain to them, that the vaccine was developed in really record time. It was quite quick. The fastest we've ever had a vaccine go from a discovery of a pathogen, the coronavirus, and the time it went into people's arms. That speed was not reckless speed. It was a reflection of decades of extraordinarily exquisite science which went into things like the development of new vaccine platforms, so I think when people understand that, that this is the result of a lot of science over many, many years and a very, very extensive clinical trial process, so this is really done really quite well. We just got to make sure people understand that. The medical technology that we've seen in recent years, I also want to ask you about this. We have seen a slight uptick in some states when it comes to covid but we've also seen a plateau thankfully in hospitalizations and in deaths, so are you more concerned or more hopeful with the vaccine rollout as it is. Are you more concerned or hopeful in the months ahead, Dr. Fauci? Well, I'm quite optimistic about what the impact of the vaccines are going to be because every day we give up to 3 million doses of vaccine in people's arms. I believe that's going to ultimately have a very positive - impact, but in the meanwhile, as you showed on your piece a moment ago, the number of cases in the country have plateaued. That's not good. They should keep going down and down and they've plateaued at a level of about 53,000 cases a day, which is not good, because we've seen this before. When you plateau like that, there really is a danger of a resurgence. We're actually seeing that in Europe, and, quite frankly, we generally are about three to four weeks behind the dynamics of the outbreak that we see in Europe, so given that the Europeans are surging back up, that that is very clear that this is a risk that we will be doing the same thing if we don't pull back and in other words we need to keep doing the public health measures that we talk about all the time. We need to keep all of that in mind. Dr. Fauci, as I said, thank you, thank you for always being willing to come to speak with us. We really do appreciate it. Thank you for having me. Guys, coming up, an

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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