Pfizer CEO: Company refused taxpayer money for COVID-19 vaccine development to 'liberate our scientists'

Pfizer chose not to take U.S. taxpayer money to help fund its coronavirus vaccine development, a move that CBS News' Margaret Brennan pointed out on Sunday is a bit of a financial risk for the pharmaceutical giant.

CEO Albert Bourla admitted that it will indeed "be painful" if the vaccine fails, but "at the end of the day it's only money" and the lack of taxpayer funds won't "break our company." It was more important for Bourla that his scientists were able to work without any strings attached, he said. "I wanted to liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy," he continued. "When you get money from someone, that always comes with strings. They want to see how we are growing to progress, what types of moves you are going to do. They want reports. I didn't want to have any of that."

Bourla said he gave Pfizer's team an "open checkbook" so they only have to worry about "scientific challenges." Plus, he added, he wanted to keep Pfizer out of politics, a tall task for a pharma company on any day, but especially during this pandemic.

As for the vaccine itself, Bourla said Pfizer is preparing for a situation in which they'll know if the candidate works by the end of October, adding that "I cannot say what" the Food and Drug Administration "will do" after that, but "I think it's a likely scenario" the product could receive federal approval before the end of the year. Read more at The Hill.

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