Pfizer CEO: We didn't delay vaccine results until after election

FILE PHOTO: Vials with a sticker reading, "COVID-19 / Coronavirus vaccine / Injection only" and a medical syringe are seen in front of a displayed Pfizer logo in this illustration taken October 31, 2020. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/File Photo

(Reuters) - Pfizer Inc “didn’t conspire with anyone” to delay release of efficacy results for the COVID-19 vaccine it developed with German partner BioNTech SE until after the U.S. presidential election, Chief Executive Albert Bourla said on Tuesday.

“The elections were always for us an artificial line. It may have been very important for the president but not for us,” Bourla said at New York Times event.

“I didn’t receive any pressure per se on me to do something that was not appropriate ... I would never do something like that,” he said.

Last week, Pfizer and BioNTech said their vaccine was more than 90% effective at preventing COVID-19, based on an initial analysis. [L1N2HV0TR]

Bourla had originally suggested the companies would have vaccine results by the end of October, but did not release the findings until Nov. 9, nearly a week after the election.

U.S. President Donald Trump, who lost his re-election bid to Democrat Joe Biden, had repeatedly assured the public that his administration would likely identify a successful vaccine in time for the election.

The president later tweeted that Pfizer “didn’t have the courage to” announce its results before the election.

Bourla also said the company has already hit the required safety milestone for the vaccine’s Phase III trial, which is two months of follow-up data from around half of the study’s roughly 44,000 participants. He said Pfizer is currently preparing that data for submission to health regulators.

Reporting by Michael Erman; Editing by Chris Reese and Bill Berkrot