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California Gov. Gavin Newsom. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

California will "independently review" all coronavirus vaccines approved by the Food and Drug Administration before allowing their distribution, Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) announced at a news conference Monday.

Why it matters: The move could raise further public concern that the federal government could release a vaccine based on political motives, rather than safety and efficacy. Newsom noted the "political polarization" around the issue.

Of note: Newsom said he considered mid-2021 to be a realistic projection for when a vaccine could be publicly distributed.

  • "No matter who the next president is, we're going to maintain our vigilance," he added.

What else he's saying: "Of course, we don’t take anyone's word for it," Newsom said, announcing the establishment of the Scientific Safety Review Workgroup.

  • "We will do our own independently reviewed process with our world-class experts.
  • "These experts … will independently review and monitor any vaccine trials to guarantee safety, to guarantee equity and to guarantee the transparency of the distribution of our vaccines."

The big picture: Fauci told "CBS Evening News" last week that scientists should know by November or December whether potential COVID-19 vaccines are safe and effective. Vaccine candidates undergoing clinical trials could be widely available by April if this is proven to be the case, he said.

  • Health officials testified on Capitol Hill in September that the vaccine approval process would be based on safety and efficacy, not politics.
  • The FDA also stressed in new guidelines last month it would toughen the requirements for a coronavirus vaccine emergency authorization.
  • The FDA did not immediately respond to Axios' request for comment.

Go deeper

Updated Dec 4, 2020 - Health

Fauci apologizes for criticizing U.K. regulators over Pfizer vaccine approval

Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Anthony Fauci, the U.S. government's top infectious-disease expert, on Thursday walked back his earlier comments criticizing British regulators over their recent approval the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

What he's saying: "I have a great deal of confidence in what the U.K. does both scientifically and from a regulator standpoint," Dr Fauci told the BBC on Thursday after saying earlier in the day that U.K. regulators "rushed" their approval of the vaccine.

Dec 3, 2020 - Health

WSJ: Pfizer expects to ship half as many COVID vaccines as planned in 2020

A Pfizer factory in Puurs, Belgiam on Dec. 3. Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP via Getty Images

Pfizer and BioNTech have halved their original estimates for how many coronavirus vaccines would be shipped globally by the end of this year, citing supply-chain issues, the Wall Street Journal first reported.

Why it matters: The U.K. government has ordered 40 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine — enough to inoculate some 20 million people. The companies now expect to ship 50 million vaccines by the end of 2020, per WSJ.

Updated 11 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Politics: Fauci says he accepted Biden's offer to be chief medical adviser "on the spot" — The recovery needs rocket fuel.
  2. Health: CDC: It's time for "universal face mask use" — Death rates rising across the country — Study: Increased testing can reduce transmission.
  3. Economy: U.S. economy adds 245,000 jobs in November as recovery slows — America's hidden depression: K-shaped recovery threatens Biden administration.
  4. Cities: Bay Area counties to enact stay-at-home order ahead of state mandate
  5. Vaccine: What vaccine trials still need to do.
  6. World: UN warns "2021 is literally going to be catastrophic"
  7. 🎧 Podcast: Former FDA chief Rob Califf on the vaccine approval process.

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