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Medical expert who oversaw vaccine development at Pfizer: 'No corners were cut'

Dr. Mace Rothenberg, Chief Medical Officer at Pfizer (FOX 17 News).PNG
Dr. Mace Rothenberg, Chief Medical Officer at Pfizer (FOX 17 News).PNG
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Experts say the fastest way to get back to a fully-open country is for everyone to get the COVID-19 vaccine. But many people still have their doubts.

So you are on the fence about the COVID-19 vaccine? You don’t know who to believe and you don’t know what to do?

How about a chat with the man who oversaw the development of the vaccine at Pfizer.

Dr. Mace Rothenberg had more than a front row seat to the development of Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine. He oversaw it.

He has retired from Pfizer and moved back to Nashville where he worked in cancer drug development for a decade.

So let’s go through the checklist of concerns. The vaccine was developed quickly and approved quickly, more so than any vaccine in US history.

As Chief Medical Officer of Pfizer, Dr. Rothenberg was in the room for all of the vaccine updates.

“No corners were cut, there were no shortcuts taken,” said Dr. Rothenberg. “We rethought the entire development process, so that rather than doing things in sequence and waiting between events, we would do things overlapping or in parallel with one another that haven’t been done before. But it was still done with oversight and care with regards to safety and efficacy and speed.”

After all, Dr. Rothenberg immediately got the vaccine himself after seeing the test results.

Another thing people have misunderstood, this vaccine cannot give you Covid. There is not a live virus in any of the vaccines.

“So in other words, what these vaccines are delivering the people is not the virus and cannot infect them with the virus, just small parts of the virus that train your body's immune system to recognize the virus should it infect and to fight that off immediately,” said Rothenberg.

So what about the Johnson & Johnson vaccine pause? Those rare blood clots, does this not bring attention to possible future, unexpected side effects?

RELATED: Johnson & Johnson pause could hurt efforts to combat vaccine hesitancy

Dr. Rothenberg points out the J&J vaccine has a very different delivery system, and that there have been no deaths associated with Pfizer or Moderna vaccines.

“So we are looking at the very real, very present, imminent threat of getting and dying from COVID-19 versus the hypothetical, theoretical, long-term risks that no one has seen yet. So as far as I’m concerned, there is no comparison,” said Rothenberg.

Finally, is there proof that the vaccine actually works? Rothenberg says there is a country right now proving it every day.

“You have to look no farther than the experience in Israel. We have had a very extensive vaccination across the country and to see those numbers of new cases and deaths driven down so low, that the number of deaths in Israel were in single digits across the country. We are still seeing about 1,000 Americans die everyday from Covid.”

Dr. Rothenberg has one other big point: if you want total reopening of the economy, the vaccine is the fastest path, he says.

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The more vaccines, the earlier we put this in the rear view mirror.

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