EXCLUSIVE: Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla on Vaccinating Kids and the World (Part 2)
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Andy continues his conversation with Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla, and today they discuss vaccines for kids under 12, when Pfizer expects to receive full FDA approval, vaccinating the rest of the world, and more. Plus, hear Albert’s recollection of the day he learned that the Pfizer vaccine trials showed 95.6% efficacy. If you missed Part 1, make sure to go back and listen from the beginning.
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Follow Albert Bourla on Twitter @AlbertBourla.
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Check out these resources from today’s episode:
- Read more about federal regulators asking Pfizer and Moderna to expand the size of their vaccine trials in kids ages 5-11: https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2021/07/26/fda-asks-pfizer-moderna-test-their-vaccines-more-children-under-12-help-rule-out-safety-issues/
- Here’s the latest from the FDA on the approval process for COVID-19 vaccines: https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/29/politics/fda-vaccine-full-approval-fast-as-possible/index.html
- Keep up to date on the global vaccine picture: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2021/world/covid-vaccinations-tracker.html
- Find a COVID-19 vaccine site near you: https://www.vaccines.gov/
- Order Andy’s book, Preventable: The Inside Story of How Leadership Failures, Politics, and Selfishness Doomed the U.S. Coronavirus Response: https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250770165
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Andy Slavitt & Albert Bourla
Welcome to IN THE BUBBLE. I’m your host, Andy Slavitt. Today is part two of our conversation with Albert Bourla. The first part was last Wednesday. If you haven’t heard it yet, you might want to do that first. And then you could listen to this or listen to them in different orders. Wednesday’s show was about the immediate impact of Delta, Albert’s view on how we will keep up with Delta, how the vaccine works against the existing set of circumstances, how Pfizer tries to keep up with ongoing variance, and a lot of other current issues, including does he wear a mask in the current timeframe, and great interview very timely. This interview, I bring a lot more of your questions on a variety of topics to Albert fixate on a couple of things, kids under 12, and decides for the vaccine there. Timing of vaccine approval with the FDA, how people with compromised immune system is fair in this environment.
We talked a little bit about that in the last show, how he makes decisions about where to send vaccines around the globe. Fascinating. Not too many people have as much power as Pfizer does right now producing upwards of 3 billion vaccines in the next 18 months or so. And really having the decision in his hands, Albert does to decide which countries to send many of those vaccines to. Now, a lot of countries like the US and the G7 and G20. have a lot to say about that. And they are indeed raising their influence. But of course Pfizer could contract with anybody who wants to for its manufacturing capacity. And indeed, it has spare capacity right now. And he’s making those decisions. So that’s fascinating. And then we finish up with a personal story of the day that Albert got the news of the effectiveness of the Pfizer vaccine.
Andy Slavitt 02:08
I thought it was very fascinating. So stay till the end. Before we get there, how are we doing? Well, I would say that the outlook is cloudy with a chance of sun. A lot of what I would call muddledness right now people are feeling it was good reason. Masks. Do they wear them? Do they not? Should they? How important? And by the way, which type of masks something we don’t talk enough about. Schools, what to do with the kids under 12? What to do in areas where there are no mask mandates, what to do with kids who aren’t vaccinated, kids in general. What’s happening at summer camp, are they infectious? Are they in danger? Boosters? Will we need them and for whom? And when and does it depend on when we get vaccinated? Travel. Should we, shouldn’t we, what’s safe and what’s not? Look, all of this is a result of some changing circumstances.
Those changing circumstances include the Delta variant, which I think science is now shows that instead of a 15-minute exposure COVID can now be transmitted in about five minutes or even less for people who were unvaccinated. Lower vaccination levels in certain parts of the country, which combined with Delta creates higher prevalence and the presence of some breakthrough cases and a decent number of breakthrough cases, even though small, relative to the number of people who are vaccinated, and almost entirely moderate cases, still, I think we’re learning can be a source of infection. So those things tend to jumble up and I just talked about masks, schools, boosters, travel, before the school season starts, I promise we’re gonna dedicate an entire episode to schools and kids and those topics and we will take your questions. So I promised you that. These other topics we’ve been covering as best we can with Albert and with others, we have taken kind of a two-week digression from the programming we put in place, which is covering the range of topics that I promised you we would cover to really focus on Delta and to focus on the president.
Andy Slavitt 04:17
We’ve done that with some scientific people like Eric Topol and Scott Gottlieb, we’ve brought forward these conversations with Albert Bourla, who I think would be great. And at your request, we’re also inviting the CEOs of Moderna, and will even put an invitation out to Johnson and Johnson, making sure that all points of view are meant to you and I think that’ll help you with the model this, how do I react to the model this is someone who is vaccinated with more care with more care. I’m thrilled to be vaccinated; I feel pretty safe. But you know, I’m gonna spend less time lingering indoors and restaurants and then I would have say in May or in June, so if we want a good fall and a good winter, let’s prepare for it now. And preparing for now means doubling down on many of our efforts to get vaccinated, to control the spread, and to take the steps to keep people safe. And, you know, we will wait the news that finally comes to us on boosters. Okay, let us get directly to the second half of my conversation with the CEO of Pfizer.
Let’s talk about some near-term things that are important to people. And obviously, a lot of these things are dependent upon the regulatory authorities. But probably the number one question that I got asked was, how close are we to being able to vaccinate children under 12? And I know that you, you again, are dependent upon the FDA process. But can you give people just a sense, and maybe a sense of what we’re learning from the trials about dosing and effectiveness and safety and what your feelings are?
Albert Bourla 06:02
My feeling is that the vaccines will be very effective in children between 5 and 11, all the way to 12 years old, in less of those actually, in smaller adults. And they will also safe, but the studies are ongoing. So we are waiting to finalize them so that we can properly analyze all the data, and then submit them again, I believe that we should be ready after summer to submit.
After summer, that’d be great. I know that a lot of people will be relieved to hear that. And how about what do you think about cancer patients, people with HIV others who have compromised immune systems for some reason? Is there a strategy for them? Is there something that you recommend or that Pfizer is working on that addresses the concerns that those folks have? Obviously, about making sure they feel protected?
In our studies of the 46,000 patients in collaboration, and under the guidance of the FDA, we did have a lot of people that they were either immunocompromised with HIV with other diseases, cancer, etc, etc. And we analyze this some data and the vaccine was very good even with them. It’s likely that the immune responses to those people could wane faster. This is something that scientifically theoretically we should expect. So especially with care for them should be taken. This is why a lot of authority in the world already started giving their dose even before approval by taking themselves the decision, if are those into this type of people.
Yep. And recently, someone from the CDC has indicated that that’s likely going to be the case here in the US that they’re going to try to consider moving quickly on boosts. This was a definitive statement. But you know, in my own conversations, my own read from talking to the administration. Well, first of all, let me just say that the administration, the government has purchased enough boosts for everybody in the country. So that’s not a concern. Secondly, as you just said, the vaccines that are being produced look exactly like the ones that are already being produced. So the same ones, as soon as they are authorized, that are sitting there at CVS and Walmart and doctor’s offices, you don’t need anything different. And that certainly simplifies things. And I think that my sense of the expectation of the administration is that the FDA and CDC will do their job, they’ll do a review. But in fact that particularly easiest to say, with certain subgroups, that it’s very likely we’re going to see a recommendation that come later the summer or the fall, that indeed, as you say, boosters are given, obviously, we’ll wait for the approvals for that. But that seems to be where things are heading, at least as my read as well.
I think we need to give it time to see this is where the A to Z, the data absorb them. Of course, they move very fast themselves, because they understand the times live here. But it’s important for them to feel very comfortable. And that is important also for the public, to see that they take their time, they do all the diligence, and then they provide approval, and then they provide the recommendations, what we are doing to make sure that we exceeded these, we started sending already all our data with them. So we don’t wait until the final submission that will be the official submission. We give them a preview of the data of the upcoming so they have this very important information in their hands as they are designing health care policies.
Yeah, and I would add that at least in this administration, it’s sacrosanct that the White House does not interfere with the CDC and the FDA when they review the data and make these decisions. You know, people often confuse maybe given the prior administration or other reasons. Hey, why doesn’t The Biden administration, do X, Y, and Z with the boost with the vaccines. And I think it’s same reason you’d said which is giving them time to analyze the data, get it right, and that the public needs to rely on that. Speaking of FDA approval, I think there’s a lot of people very eager for the BLA to get finalized. First of all, there are people who have probably have not been vaccinated, because they’re under some understanding that in an emergency use authorization, somehow the vaccine is less safe than it would be under a BLA, whether they’re right or wrong. That’s certainly a perception that’s out there. There are also a number of businesses and others who are ready to respond and react here to you’ve been submitted lots and lots of data. And of course, the FDA has been with you since the start of this process over a year ago. So without asking you the question that everybody wants to know, which is, hey, what’s taking him so long? What are they working on? How do you read their diligence and their progress?
Albert Bourla 11:00
I think they are doing a very good deal with so they are going deep into everything. They have asked us questions, we clarify everything. So it’s very obvious to us that they are digging into those data, they have given us fast track designation, which gave an approval expected date in January, but I know that they are doing everything they can that’s the maximum right? It’s not what they will really take, they will take as much as they think they need to do a good job. And I think that they try to move very fast. The most important thing is that is not that if we are analyzing data from a study of 46,000 people, this is fantastic. But in this particular case, we have data from millions of people, hundreds of millions of people, that they have used the vaccine and that gives to regulators around the world, and very high level of comfort when they speak about these vaccines. And if there was any side effect even the most rare of them, I don’t know 5 and a million already we got them, right? So if there was never a vaccine in the world. But by the time of approval, regulators had so much experience and exposure to data then when this works.
Andy Slavitt 12:33
That’s right. Well, that’s certainly promising. And my own view is, whether it’s August or September, whatever the date is, I’m less concerned about the weeks in between that I am about making sure that when it comes out that people can trust that the FDA did not have anybody pressuring them to shortcut the process. So that, indeed, the public trust what they see out of the FDA, which they will have reason to, and I think the FDA, is you and I both know, they’re always either too slow or too fast for someone’s taste. You know, they never get it just right. But that’s why they have to sometimes tune out a little bit of the criticism. And just we have to trust them to do what they think is right. So let’s talk a little bit about the globe if we could, by calculations I’ve seen they’ve shown that among all the vaccine manufacturers, we need about 11 billion doses to vaccinate the globe. And that it will take us given kind of a run rate of manufacturing, that it will take us into and towards the end of 2022. before we’re able to do that, is that how you kind of roughly see the picture?
I think that I can speak about ourselves because I have very high level of confidence. And we made in the first six months a billion dose. And we will make in the second six months, which is July to December 2 billion doses. So in total for the year we’ll make $3 billion. Next year in 2022, we will exceed the 4 billion. So in the next 18 months, we will make 6 billion doses, so if you calculate to starting July 1 for this year and for at least next year, I think hope we will exceed that. So more than half of what the world thinks we will make ourselves and there is Moderna, J&J, there is AstraZeneca, Sinovac. A lot of vaccines as they are circulating. So I feel that the world have enough vaccines. And actually I think the world will have enough vaccines so that they can even choose which one they want, not take the one that it is available.
Andy Slavitt 14:45
That’s obviously a good outlook. You use that expression earlier that time is life. And of course, in the meantime, while we have shortages, there’s this sense of picking and choosing how we distribute these vaccines and you know some countries are fortunate United Kingdom, United States, Israel. And then you have other countries Indonesia, India, Australia, that have a more difficult outlook here. When I hear from people in those countries, both I hear from government officials and from ordinary citizens, as I’m sure you do as well, how do you think about what they’re facing in the next few months? And how close are we to being able to meet some of these needs. And I know, as you say, Pfizer is only can’t do it isn’t doing the whole thing itself. You’ve got others out there. But the Pfizer vaccine, to date has been the one that’s had a combination of very, very high degree of success, a very high degree of scalability and manufacturing.
Yes. And I would add to the list of countries that they are facing issues with supply. Low-income countries, countries in Africa, some countries in Asia with low income in some countries in Latin America. And also, that the reason why the United States or UK or anybody else got the vaccine in higher quantities in the first half and other places, because in the first half, we say 216 markets, countries, right? So it’s not that we gave only two, three. But clearly, we gave away more competitive population in those high-income countries was because they had ordered when we asked them to order, on time, and unfortunately, many of the lower middle-income countries other than the Europeans, they made bets and they ordered other type of vaccines, for several reasons at the time, who knew that mRNA would be the technology to prevail actually was counterintuitive. It was the one but we didn’t have any information.
Albert Bourla 16:55
Also, it was very important for them, when someone could promise we will make it locally, we will make technical transfer, we will manufacture it in your country, but extremely important for them. So they pick those type of vaccines. Eventually, on the contrary, Europeans and Americans, they place bets, multiple bets, they didn’t want to take any chances. And they basically reserved all the capacity the time, I personally send letters. To many leaders of those countries, I called several of them, I text few of them. Urging them to place orders with our vaccine, because the available projected capacity at the time was reserved rapidly. And I knew that we will enter a situation but people will say why you give only to high income countries you don’t give to low-income countries. They didn’t. They weren’t convinced with my pledge to do it. Eventually, two things. One, the mRNA technology was proven to be the one. Secondly, the technical transfer was proven to be very challenging.
Albert Bourla 18:14
The fact that someone is promised to get will do in one of your local manufacturing, let’s say producers, a technical transfer, I will be able to do it in a year, you will have local manufacturing, didn’t happen. Simple as that, right? And that created very different situation in this company, then they ran without any available options. This is when they came back to us. And frankly, that’s why we’re receiving 216 countries right now. And the principle we were using was that we couldn’t take those out of people that they have reserve and they had made their plans on time, what we could do was to try to make more and more and more so that it will not have to turn. And this is why what we were thinking in January of this year, that will be 1.3 billion doses. It became 3 billion doses for this year, and 4 for next year. And we were successful on that. So in the second half, is going to be way more doses now sent to low- and middle-income countries, rather than to the high-income countries. Because this is when now they had reserved.
The additional 4 billion for next year. Are those all purchased or are you still figuring out how those get allocated based upon the ongoing conversations you’re having with national leaders?
No, they’re still under the process of allocating. There are many countries that they have reserved. For example, you just saw that the US made an additional order of 200 million doses. Europe had made a very big agreement, where the first one to secure dose for 22′ and 23′, Canada secured doses for 22′, 23′ 24′. These are secure doses for 22′ and 23′. But what I’m doing again, with all these countries and telling them, also, please reserve there is enough. But please reserve because I don’t know how things will eventually go. And I believe that, of course, now is very different. Because the technology is proven. The manufacturing reliability is proven and exists, the manufacturing capacity. So I think those doses will be allocated in a few months.
Andy Slavitt 20:49
That’s great. If a country came to you and said, Albert, Australia, we’d like you to build the plant here for the long term. This is not for the 21′, 22′ issues. But for beyond that, do you have enough technology, team, and staff and scalability capability to add additional factories in new locations over time?
They want to begin straightforward. First of all, there is literally no country in the world that they didn’t call me to set up manufacturing capacity in there. And when I say no country, literally, I mean, countries in Africa, they asked me to do a lot of countries in Latin America, they asked me to do it, of course, Australia, everyone. They wants to it. And it’s not possible to have a manufacturing site in every country, because then we will run into this what we just describe. Secondly, as I said, it was proven that our strategy to focus our production in mega sites that we knew we were having very good quality control around it, compared to a strategy where we will give it to contract manufacturers or spread our production with technical transfers and other world was the successful one and the other didn’t work. And there was a reason why.
Albert Bourla 22:08
And it’s not only as you pointed out in the beginning, with this strategy we were able to make this big quantities, but we haven’t destroyed a single batch so far. We haven’t lose a single batch. Everything that we produced has consistent quality. And you know, the big issues with other manufacturers were running with doses unfortunately, we had to say they had to dispose. So I think that we don’t really need to go out. Now to your question. Yes. If it was Australia, I think in Australia, they have enough technical expertise with people if we were deciding to build the manufacturing site there. I think in Australia, we could easily find the highly skilled force that is needed to operate this type of facilities. I don’t think that would be the same in countries that they do not have the same level of scientific sophistication.
Got it. And I want to clarify one thing, which I think I understand, but I’m not trying to have right. But I think it’s a misconception of the public, which is that when you provide vaccines to poor and intermediate income countries, my understanding is that you’re doing so oftentimes purchased by Kovacs or by the US. But you’re doing it in a very different price that you do in the developed world. And I think it’d be great for people to understand that.
Yeah, way back in July, when we established our final pricing strategy, we established a tier price. So we divided the world into three tiers. And we gave comparable prices to each tier. The first tier was the high-income countries, the US, the Europe, etc. And then it was a price that it was, you know, the cost of a meal in this country, still very reasonable price. And then you could play with if they could give them high orders, it’ll give you some discounts or never say anything, but they were one tier. The middle-income countries, as defined by the World Bank definition received half this price, middle income, for example, it is Brazil or Argentina, these type of countries, right? South Africa. The low-income countries and the lower level of middle-income countries. We’re getting it of course. And in fact, some of them will get it completely for free because sponsors intervene like the US with the Biden administration that purchased 500 million from us.
Albert Bourla 24:46
It costs not at the price that the US would pay for US uses but of course, and then they are donated for free. And by the way, these 500 million doses is once they purchase, we broke them of course, and they are part of the allocation. So now, no one is moving those dose. As long as we stick with our production schedule, which has been proven to be very reliable, we will deliver those doses to the people that they the US government will decide to donate those doses. And they have to be low-income countries that are contract is clear, they cannot give you for example, too France, right, which is high income countries, they can only give it to low-income countries.
Great. And so I think it’s important for people to know that, you know, vaccinating the poorest of the poor is not a matter of cost. It’s an expensive proposition. But the wealthy countries, the G20, the US and others, stepping up to buy those and buy them at cost is a big difference, it would be completely unaffordable if the world had to be vaccinated at the same price the US was paying. And so that’s a real important part of the perspective that I think you as a global manufacturer, and research arm and the G20 undertook together to try to solve this problem.
Albert Bourla 26:05
Absolutely. You’re right. And I have to say that when I said, I send letters to leaders, please place your order, it was clear to them that it was going to be the cost of the order at the time was going to be at a non for profit. It’s not that they we gave it at a very high price.
Let me close by talking about you, Albert as a global communicator, and the importance of communication in this time, I remember the day that we first learned of the first study which showed the efficacy of the Pfizer vaccine, the 96%, can you talk about your reaction, and what happened in with what you felt like, personally, how you learned of the news. And what that meant?
It was the greatest joy of my life. And it was a phenomenal relief. Because you know, when you have billions of people around the world, and hundreds of millions of businesses around the world, and hundreds of governments around the world, placing all their hopes on you, to be able to deliver a solution. And you are in the forefront of this effort. You know, you feel that way. So it was I knew that the day I was expecting to hear the data, which we it was like a black box with you know what, when we unblind the data, the data will tell us, I was very much aware of how much are at stake. So I found out it was Sunday. It was around two o’clock that I found out. I went together with the head of research, our legal counsel, head of communications and made simple stuff, a very small group into our corporate offices in Connecticut. And then some security guards.
And then we were waiting to hear to receive a text actually my Chief of Staff Yolanda received that text every time that her phone was timing I was, are they ready? Are they ready than one of this? Assemble the building. So what’s the goal? So we went into the room, we connected with WebEx with the conference, with a team of scientists, three that they had just heard from another team, which was the data monitoring committee. People may not know that in every study, you have to appoint an independent data monitoring committee, it’s a committee of independent experts, typically professors, clinicians, that they are not Pfizer, and they could have visibility in the study to make sure that they will tell you stop the study, you have good results or don’t stop, continue. So that we never know what really is going on with the study so they can review the data.
Albert Bourla 28:57
And they told these guys, our guys, we strongly recommend you to apply for emergency use authorization immediately. That is for a data monitoring committee. That was not the typical language. They’re very frugal with their work. Usually they will say we recommend continuing to study. We recommend stop the study for efficacy. We recommend stop the study because doesn’t work. That’s what they do say, those were very strong words. So immediately, I felt that something was going on there. And they told us the news and the first thing that they told me was that is working. It was […] the head of our vaccines. And then we knew, Katherine didn’t know at the time, the magnitude, she only knew that because statistical significance and why is that? Because we can process in place so that very few people will find out the real number and then evaluate the situation in terms of what we need to do with disclosure, and those two people were only two.
Albert Bourla 30:04
So after that was done, everybody left the room, and they stayed me and the general counsel. And then we had the second connection with two biostatisticians, that they knew the data, and they told me the numbers. And I thought I misheard the numbers, and then what they said, but what is the evidence, and they told me 95.6%. And then I was astonished. And I felt that me and Doug which is our legal counsel that we are sitting in the most material information in the world that time, that something that it is destroying the economies and taking the lives of millions, there is not suddenly solution from zero, but we didn’t know anything now we know that we have 95.6%. So we discuss what to do. And I had discussed the previous days with Operational Warp Speed, amongst safe, slow, and how to present the data once the data are known to us. And he suggested, let’s not give the number. For example, let’s not say 72% effective, let’s say it is effective, because he said, By the time you do that until the time you submit the data, will take let’s say a month, and this 72 may become 73 or 71. Let’s not confused that people with same two numbers, because it’s important, and I agreed with him. So he said only if it is working.
But we were expecting 60-70, this was the efficacy that we were powering the studies. When you realize that we had a 95.6, my legal counsel told me, you can’t sit on this information, you need to take it out. That’s material information, not for the company’s for the health authorities of the world. They need to know what is coming. So then we debate for a while. And then we decided, let’s say more than 90%. So let us not give the exact number 95.6. But let’s present the information that this is not what we were expecting is way, way, way back. And this is what we did. And we went the next day with a more than 90%.
Andy Slavitt 32:20
Wow. And as you said, it’s easy to forget this now, but the world was expecting, hoping for vaccines that were more than 50%, effective, 60%-70% effective. And it was truly a day that I think so many of us remembered. Thank you for sharing that.
Since that time, I imagine you spend your time talking to world leaders, talking to the public. And the one thing that hit people, the hard way, in some respects, is there’s one more data point that you have to keep track of before you figure out how effective the vaccine is. And that’s what percentage of the people are going to take the vaccine. And that’s the trust level. And as I said at the time, you know, 100% effective vaccine with a 50% acceptance level is exactly the same as a 50% effective vaccine with 100% trust level. And so this effort to get people, many of whom I think are unsure about whether or not to get vaccinated is a monumental global task that has equal importance is the effectiveness of the vaccine in many respects. And yet, it’s a bit of a black box as well. And I think that you know, for people who are vaccinated, they don’t understand how people who aren’t vaccinated think. But I would also say what’s probably true is for people who are unvaccinated.
They’re not sure how people who vaccinate themselves so quickly think and that people have a process to go through. Sure there are people who throw out misinformation and all of those things we’ve talked about on the show before. But there’s also a process people go through before acceptance. So for some people, it’s longer than others. How do you think about the context of that very important dialogue? How we’ll be had, how people’s concerns and misconceptions about the vaccine, there thought that it was just rushed. The mRNA vaccine was invented last year, which a lot of people believe, and yet there’s a far greater story to tell. And many people, including you and your scientists, are positioned to at least tell part of that story. How do you think about that, because I get the sense that it’s something Albert you’re paying attention to.
Albert Bourla 34:44
Of course, I pay attention because as you said, it is one of the most important critical success factors in our ability to defeat the virus. The more vaccinated we’ll have, the more variance we will have and then the more sickness and it’s getting complicated for all. The people that are hesitant to take a vaccine. They’re good decent people at large, right? They’re afraid most of them, either for the reasons that you just said, maybe it’s new, maybe they’re rushing, or because they are, they have heard misinformation campaigns that go from paranoia. Like there is a microchip to monitoring you all the way to I’ve heard that people are dying, and they don’t say this a lot of that going on. But the fundamental thing it is that they’re afraid. And you know, when you have fear that you can’t, let’s say, conquering a fear with rationality. So I think is extremely important, because there are different variations of […] over there. That we provide the information, we are transparent, we keep providing and providing the information, but the information is already out there, hundreds of millions of people have taken it, they are perfectly fine.
Albert Bourla 36:08
And those are they’re taking they’re protected. But still, they’re not convinced, I found that the best way to talk to those people, it is by explain to them what their decision means for others, not for them. And particularly for people that they love the most. Because they’re the people that they will hug and they will kiss and they will see. And I have found that in humans, the only emotion that it is stronger than fear is love. So when you speak to them and say, you know, your decision is not only going to affect only your health, which is your case, we are in America, we are free spirit. So you need to make your decision for your own health, including, but will affect the lives of the people that you love, your grandkids or your kids. So think about it twice before you do, I think is the best thing that I found so far working. And the worst of all, it is to try to same those people are in your saying that you are doing the worst you can do.
Yeah. And I think people shame, people without even knowing they are just with labels. And I couldn’t agree more. I also think there are a set of concerns that are quite rational for someone who knows nothing about a vaccine and say, hey, this is brand new. What if something happened to me in 10 years? We could look at that and say, dumb question. But these aren’t dumb questions. You know, these are questions that people have, and that they should be treated respect. I do wish more people knew the full story of how long the mRNA platform has been under development, how much research has gone into it. I think there’s a lot of people who don’t know that. And for some people, that may be reassuring. I also hope that FDA, the final BLA will give people the chance to say, you know what the jury was out. And I was waiting, but the jury has come back. It’s a very tough jury. There’s no tougher jury than the FDA. So we’re gonna see that.
Andy Slavitt 38:16
Well, Albert, I want to thank you, you’re making time for this and talking to the public. When you have so many other things to do. I’m so glad you think of it as part of your role. And I think, you know, this is important. These are really great clarifications for people and thoughtful things. And, you know, my hope is that the basic belief in basic science and in funding basic science and research that we will see and understand the benefit. And finally, thank you to your scientists, I don’t know them all met a couple of the leaders. But the people who work on the edge for these kinds of moments for their career, or this tends to be incredibly meaningful for them. And of course, we’re counting in them as you say we’re counting on them, to keep us ahead of the curve going forward. So please thank you to all of your team.
Of course, I will. Thank you very much, Andy.
Thank you to Albert Bourla. For sitting for that long interview and answering my questions. I hope you found it useful. The idea, as always, is to give you the chances to hear from people directly. The premise as with Frank Luntz, as with Scott Gottlieb, as with David Axelrod, as with Facebook, it’s just for you to get a chance to listen to a conversation that I would be having as if I were having it not being recorded. And the goal is that you get the fresh insights that necessarily that you believe everything you hear, I think you’re all quite smart enough to be able to decide what you want to hear what you don’t want to listen to. But because I do have these conversations and people are kind enough to agree to come into my bubble gives me a chance to record them and play them for you.
Andy Slavitt 40:02
And so hopefully that will be helpful to you in the decisions you make and in keeping things on track. Let me tell you about the next episodes on Wednesday, Mike Osterholm, the extraordinary public health leader who has three decades of experience with pandemics and thinking about pandemics and talking about pandemics, you know, Mike and I, because we were both in Minnesota for a while, know each other quite well. And so it is a really kind of in tenth detailed inside baseball conversation with no pretense, no formality, just a lot of back-and-forth questions. I just recorded it. I think it’s a perfect example of just bringing it to you straight. And that’ll probably be an impactful episode.
Then we’re going to talk about a couple things we’re going to have one or more Governor’s on to talk about local efforts at vaccination. And then we’re going to have our big episode on kids in schools with probably the most, one of the most popular people ever been on this show is not Tina Fey, not Tony Fauci. It’s Rich Corsi. Yes, Rich Corsi, he is one of the most popular people to ever be on the show. And we’re going to talk about kids in school intensely and answer your questions in kind of a toolkit format. So there it is. There it is. Happy Monday. And hope you have a great week. Well, I’ll talk to you again on Wednesday. So hope you have a great couple days. Thanks.
Thanks for listening to IN THE BUBBLE. Hope you rate us highly. We’re a production of Lemonada Media. Kryssy Pease and Alex McOwen produced the show. Our mix is by Ivan Kuraev. Jessica Cordova Kramer and Stephanie Wittels Wachs still rule our lives and executive produced the show. And our theme was composed by Dan Molad and Oliver Hill, and additional music by Ivan Kuraev. You can find out more about our show on social media at @LemonadaMedia. And you can find me at @ASlavitt on Twitter or at @AndySlavitt on Instagram. If you like what you heard today, most importantly, please tell your friends to come listen and please stay safe, share some joy and we will get through this together.