The Trump administration turned down Pfizer’s offer for additional doses of its COVID-19 vaccine – and now additional supplies to vaccinate Americans might not be available until June.
The New York Times first reported that Pfizer had made the offer, saying it came in late summer – and that the administration had declined.
On a call with reporters, a senior administration official said the Times’ report was ‘false.’
It came on the heels of Fox News Channel reporting that President Donald Trump planned to sign an executive order that would ‘ensure that United States government prioritizes getting the vaccine to American citizens before sending it to other nations.’
Under the current Pfizer order, the U.S. government will get 100 million doses, which is only enough to vaccinate 50 million Americans. Pfizer has made commitments to other countries, which could cause the delay.
It’s unclear whether the outgoing president’s executive order would be able to force Pfizer’s hand.
President Donald Trump was incensed after good news on the coronavirus vaccine front came after the November 3 presidential election
The White House invited Psizer CEO Albert Bourla (left) and Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel to Tuesday’s ‘Vaccine Summit,’ an invitation they both declined, according to STAT
Psizer told The Times in a statement that ‘any additional doses beyond the 100 million are subject to a separate and mutually acceptable agreement.’
‘The company is not able to comment on any confidential discussions that may be taking place with the U.S. government,’ the statement said.
A senior Trump administration official delivered a similar line, saying, ‘we’re in the middle of a negotiation right now and we can’t talk publicly about it.’
‘We feel absolutely confident we will get the vaccine doses for which we’ve contracted and will have sufficient number of doses to vaccinate all Americans who desire one before the end of second quarter 2021,’ the official said.
He’s charged vaccine-makers with holding back good news until after the November 3 election, which he lost to Democratic President-elect Joe Biden.
Trump has refused to concede.
Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel had been invited to appear Tuesday in Washington and declined.
A senior administration official explained that in the early planning stages of the Tuesday event they wanted to include the pharmaceutical heads, but decided Dr. Peter Marks, the leader of the FDA’s biologics center, would be a better guest.
According to the official, Marks could not appear at the same event as the company CEOs while their vaccines are under review.
The president is expected to take credit for the quick development of vaccines through Operation Warp Speed at the summit, as well as pressure the Food and Drug Administration to quickly approve an emergency use authorization for both companies’ products.
The snub is predictable, as Trump has especially been at odds with Pfizer after executive Kathrin Jansen, the head of vaccine research and development, said on November 10 that this particular vaccine wasn’t part of Operation Warp Speed.
Pfizer didn’t take federal dollars for development of the vaccine, but signed on to sell $1.95 billion of it to the U.S. government, thus ensuring there would be a marketplace.
Bourla defended the company’s decision not to take federal funds saying that Pfizer wanted to ‘liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy’ and ‘keep Pfizer out of politics.’
But on November 9 – six days after the presidential election and two days after President-elect Joe Biden was deemed the winner – Pfizer announced the findings that the company’s vaccine was 95 per cent effective against COVID-19.
Trump was incensed.
‘As I have long said, @Pfizer and the others would only announce a Vaccine after the Election, because they didn’t have the courage to do it before. Likewise, the @US_FDA should have announced it earlier, not for political purposes, but for saving lives!’ Trump tweeted that night. ‘The @US_FDA and the Democrats didn’t want to have me get a Vaccine WIN, prior to the election, so instead it came out five days later — As I’ve said all along!’
The Washington Post reported on November 11 that Trump blamed the ‘medical deep state’ and the Food and Drug Administration for the post-election announcement.
Other major companies will send representatives to the Tuesday White House summit.
They include FedEx, UPS, CVS, Walgreens and McKesson, STAT reported.
A handout from the White House showed that there would be a focus on vaccine distribution.
Biden, in remarks last week, suggested the Operation Warp Speed plan wasn’t fully developed.
‘There is no detailed plan that we’ve seen anyway as to how you get the vaccine out of a container into an injection syringe into somebody’s arm,’ Biden said.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said Sunday he had plans to meet with Biden this week.