Pfizer CEO Albert Bourl speaking in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla told employees in a letter Thursday that he is disappointed his company's coronavirus vaccine was politicized during this week’s presidential debate, adding that campaign rhetoric about the outbreak and vaccine development is “undercutting public confidence," according to AP and CNBC.

Why it matters: President Trump accused pharmaceutical companies of slowing their COVID-19 vaccine development to hurt him politically at Tuesday's debate, claiming the U.S. is "weeks away from a vaccine," per Stat News.

Context: “I’ve spoken to Pfizer, I’ve spoken to all of the people that you have to speak to, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson, and others," Trump said during the debate, per AP. "They can go faster than that by a lot. It’s become very political."

What they're saying: Bourla assured Pfizer employees that the company is developing its vaccine “at the speed of science,” rather than holding to a political timeline.

  • “Once more, I was disappointed that the prevention for a deadly disease was discussed in political terms rather than scientific facts,” he wrote.
  • “In this hyper-partisan year, there are some who would like us to move more quickly and others who argue for delay. Neither of those options are acceptable to me.”
  • “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."

Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel said Wednesday that his company's coronavirus vaccine won't be available for widespread distribution until at least spring 2021.

The big picture: Lack of trust in a possible coronavirus vaccine has become a major problem, Axios' Sam Baker reports.

  • 79% of respondents to a new Stat/Harris Poll survey said they would worry about a vaccine's safety if it's approved quickly, and 75% said they worry about politics — rather than science — driving the process.

Go deeper

Updated 4 hours ago - Health

Fox News president and several hosts advised to quarantine in COVID-19 precaution

A political display is posted on the outside of the Fox News headquarters on 6th Avenue in New York City in July. Photo: Timothy A. Clary/AFP via Getty Images

Fox News president Jay Wallace and anchors Bret Baier and Martha MacCallum are among those recommended to get tested and quarantine after possible exposure to COVID-19, the New York Times first reported Sunday night.

The big picture: The Fox News contingent, which also included "The Five" show hosts Juan Williams and Dana Perino, were on a charter flight from Nashville to New York following Thursday's presidential debate with a person who later tested positive for the coronavirus.

Caitlin Owens, author of Vitals
13 hours ago - Health

The swing states where the pandemic is raging

Data: The COVID Tracking Project, The Cook Political Report; Table: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Several states that are likely to decide which party controls Washington next year have exceptionally large coronavirus outbreaks or are seeing cases spike.

Why it matters: Most voters have already made up their minds. But for those few holdouts, the state of the pandemic could ultimately help them make a decision as they head to the polls — and that's not likely to help President Trump.

Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Pence no longer expected at Amy Coney Barrett's final confirmation vote

Photo: Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images

Vice President Mike Pence no longer plans to attend the Senate's final confirmation vote for Judge Amy Coney Barrett, a Pence aide confirmed to CNN and Politico on Monday. On Sunday, Senate Democrats claimed that his presence after possible exposure to the coronavirus would be a "violation of common decency."

Driving the news: Five of Pence's aides were recently diagnosed with COVID-19, including his chief of staff, who is currently quarantining. Pence has continued his campaign travel despite his possible exposure, which goes against CDC guidelines.

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