By Jared S. Hopkins 

Pfizer Inc.'s chief executive sought to assure the drugmaker's employees Thursday that their experimental Covid-19 vaccine wouldn't be influenced by politics, two days after President Trump mentioned the company during the debate.

Chief Executive Albert Bourla sent a letter to all employees saying Pfizer "would never succumb to political pressure" as it develops a Covid-19 vaccine.

"The only pressure we feel -- and it weighs heavy -- are the billions of people, millions of businesses and hundreds of government officials that are depending on us," he wrote in the letter, which was reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

President Trump said in the presidential debate Tuesday that he had spoken to Pfizer and a Covid-19 vaccine would be generally available sooner than next summer, as suggested by federal health officials. Mr. Trump said he disagreed with them.

The president's comments at the debate, as well as remarks beforehand saying he sought a vaccine's authorization before Election Day, have touched off partisan fighting over whether his administration would push for a vaccine's use before it has been fully vetted.

They come as surveys show significant numbers of Americans harbor concerns about taking a vaccine, partly out of fear a shot might be unsafe.

Pfizer is recruiting 44,000 people in more than 100 countries to test its vaccine in a late-stage study. Dr. Bourla has said in public appearances that the company could know results about whether it works as early as this month.

Mr. Bourla said in the letter that can't predict exactly when, or if, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration would authorize the company's vaccine, which Germany's BioNTech SE is also working on.

"But I do know that the world will be safer if we stop talking about the vaccines' delivery in political terms and focus instead on a rigorous independent scientific evaluation and a robust independent approval process," he wrote.

Write to Jared S. Hopkins at


(END) Dow Jones Newswires

October 01, 2020 15:36 ET (19:36 GMT)

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