US infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said on Friday he was reacting to gloating by a British television interviewer when he criticized the country's quick approval of the first coronavirus vaccine.
Fauci, longtime director of a leading US government health agency and member of the White House coronavirus task force, apologized for his comments late on Thursday.
"It was just one of those things where I sat down in front of the TV with a British TV station and the first thing they said was, 'Ah, we beat you guys. We beat the Americans to the punch'. And I kind of reacted back at him when I think I probably should not have done," Fauci told NBC's "Today" show.
British regulators approved the Pfizer Inc vaccine against COVID-19 on Wednesday, saying it had rigorously assessed the vaccine data and had cut no corners.
"When I got back on BBC I explained that that was taken out of context. Now the Brits are good. They know what they're doing -- I mean they're really pros, so that was just not really what I meant," Fauci said.
Fauci, director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has been asked by President-elect Joe Biden to remain in that post and also be his chief medical adviser