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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 Nov 26, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Vaccines: U.S. to mandate vaccines for anyone who crosses borders starting in January — Shots lagged data by months — The next big bottleneck in the global vaccination effort.
  2. Health: The Thanksgiving bouncers — Axios-Ipsos poll: Thanksgiving roulette — Experts criticize CDC's language on vaccine boosters — America's Thanksgiving gamble.
  3. Politics: Biden administration asks appeals court to reinstate vaccine mandate — Michigan recommends face masks for all residents amid surge.
  4. Education: A COVID strategy backfires at schools — Schools across the U.S. offer vaccine drivesBenefits of in-person school outweigh risks, study finds.
  5. World: EU drug regulator recommends Pfizer COVID vaccine for kids — Italy announces new COVID restrictions for unvaccinated people — European health agency urges expanding booster shot access.
  6. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Battle for the soul of a new web

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

A well-funded and intensely motivated chunk of tech's hive mind is finding common cause in a vast new project: rebuilding the web on a foundation of cryptocurrency and blockchain tech. They call it "Web3."

The big picture: Developers, investors and early adopters imagine a future in which the technologies that enable Bitcoin and Ethereum will break up the concentrated power today's tech giants wield and usher in a golden age of individual empowerment and entrepreneurial freedom.

First look: Biden summons top CEOs on supply chain

Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Biden will meet Monday afternoon with CEOs of big retailers, grocers and consumer-products firms to send this message, according to the White House: Products will be on shelves for holiday shopping.

Zoom out: Black Friday sales rebounded from 2020.

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