Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the former FDA commissioner who sits on the board of Pfizer, said the Trump administration turned down multiple chances to buy more doses of its coronavirus vaccine even after it showed promising signs of efficacy.
‘Pfizer did offer an additional allotment,’ he told CNBC’s ‘Squawk Box’ on Tuesday morning, ‘to the United States government multiple times and as recently as after the interim data came out, when we knew this vaccine looked to be effective.’
The Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday confirmed Pfizer’s COVID cure appears to meet the standard for emergency use authorization. The agency meets Friday to vote on the matter. Pfizer said its vaccine regimen – which consists of two shots – was 95 percent effective at preventing the disease.
But Trump administration officials denied a New York Times report that they turned down Pfizer’s offer this summer to buy more doses. The decision not to purchase the additional doses has led to concerns Pfizer would be unable to fulfill any additional U.S. order until June because of the company’s commitments to other countries.
Dr. Scott Gottlieb, who sits on the board of Pfizer, said the Trump administration turned down multiple chances to buy more doses of its coronavirus vaccine even after it showed promising signs of efficacy
‘It’s just simply not true that they offered extra doses, according to the people who are involved in the negotiations,’ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said on Fox News
‘It’s just simply not true that they offered extra doses, according to the people who are involved in the negotiations,’ White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said Tuesday morning on ‘Fox & Friends.’
Administration officials pointed out they have contacted with multiple drug makers to buy doses of a vaccine. Over the summer, officials with Operation Warp Speed signed purchase agreements with Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, AstraZeneca and Eli Lilly for vaccine options or therapeutics to treat COVID-19.
Pfizer and Moderna have the two most promising contenders for a cure thus far but other companies have vaccines in phase three trials.
‘We have six vaccine candidates. Between our contracts for doses, guaranteed purchase, and options, we have the opportunity to purchase 3 billion doses of vaccines,’ a senior Trump administration official told reporters on a call Monday evening.
That, in theory, would be more than enough to inoculate everyone in the United States, which has a population of 328 million.
Gottlieb noted Pfizer only signed a purchase order with the government – meaning the Trump administration didn’t put up any upfront funds but simply reserved the right to buy 100 million doses from the company.
He said he thought the government was hedging its bets that more companies would have a cure.
‘I think that the government made a bet that they are going to option or advance purchase vaccines from multiple manufacturers. They have agreements now with five or six manufacturers for about 100 million doses with each manufacturer. They want to spread those bets. I think they’re betting that more than one vaccine is going to get authorized,’ he said on CNBC.
‘So Pfizer has gone ahead and entered into agreement with other countries to sell them some of that vaccine in the 2nd quarter of 2021,’ he added.
The administration is ‘in the middle of a negotiation right now’ and can’t speak publicly about the Pfizer talks, a senior administration official said Monday night.
‘But we feel absolutely confident’ that there will be a ‘sufficient number of doses to vaccinate all Americans who desire one before the end of the second quarter of 2021,’ the official said.
The moment Margaret Keenan, 90, became the first patient in the United Kingdom to receive the Pfizer/BioNtech covid-19 vaccine at University Hospital, Coventry, administered by nurse May Parsons, at the start of the largest ever immunization program in the UK’s history
Deputy charge nurse Katie McIntosh administers the first of two Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine jabs to Clinical Nurse Manager Fiona Churchill, at the Western General Hospital in Edinburgh, Scotland
In a wonderful twist, the second person to get the jab in Coventry was…. a William Shakespeare from Warwickshire
The United Kingdom on Tuesday began a massive vaccination drive with doses of Pfizer’s vaccine.
At least 5,000 people are expected to be inoculated today.
Margaret Keenan, who turns 91 next week, was the first person in the world to receive the jab since it was approved by the UK’s regulator – calling it ‘the best early birthday present I could wish for’ after self-isolating alone since March. She celebrated her global fame in typical British-style – with a nice cup of tea.
Incredibly the next to get the jab was 81-year-old William Shakespeare from near Stratford-upon-Avon – the Bard’s home town – who appeared so relaxed many joked that to him, being the second person in the world to be vaccinated was ‘much ado about nothing’.
Health care workers, people aged 80 and over and NHS staff in the United Kingdom will be the first to get the vaccine.
Gottlieb down played a question on whether the Trump administration could force Pfizer to break its agreements with other countries to sell them doses of the vaccine.
President Donald Trump, at a Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit at the White House on Tuesday, plans to sign an executive order instituting an America first policy aimed at prioritizing the shipment of the coronavirus vaccine to Americans before other nations.
Gottlieb said he didn’t know if the government could order Pfizer to break its contract, noting most of the sales are going to American allies like Canada, the UK and other European nations.
‘I don’t know what the legal authorities are. I suspect that there are authorities that the administration could invoke that would break some agreements that Pfizer or other companies might have struck with other countries but bear in mind, the countries that the vaccine was sold to our close allies,’ he said.
‘It was offered multiple times to the United States,’ he added. ‘I suspect they could step in and break those agreements, but they’re our allies and we also need to remember this is a global supply chain.’
Operation Warp Speed Chief Science Adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui said he wasn’t sure what Trump’s executive order would do.
‘Frankly I don’t know and frankly I’m staying out of this,’ he said on ABC’s ‘Good Morning America’ on Tuesday. ‘I don’t know exactly what this order is about.’
The United States government could use the Defense Production Act to compel Pfizer to prioritize America in its domestic factories. But Pfizer and its partner BioNTech have a duplicate production line in a German factory, which would not fall under U.S. jurisdiction.
And forcing Pfizer out of its contract with American allies could prove a diplomatic mess for the United States.
Under the current Pfizer order, the U.S. government will get 100 million doses, which is only enough to vaccinate 50 million Americans because two shots are required.
A press release announcing the deal stated that the ‘U.S. government also can acquire up to an additional 500 million doses.’
President Donald Trump, at a Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit at the White House on Tuesday, plans to sign an executive order instituting an America first policy aimed at prioritizing the shipment of the coronavirus vaccine to Americans before other nations
The White House invited Psizer CEO Albert Bourla (left) and Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel (Right) to Tuesday’s summit, an invitation they both declined
Meanwhile, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla and Moderna CEO Stéphane Bancel turned down an invitation to appear at Tuesday’s Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit, STAT reported.
A senior administration official said they had discussed including 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.
‘We were in discussions with them in the planning process for participation, ultimately the determination was when we had Dr. Peter Marks of the FDA participating, there was a change in direction in light of the fact that we have the regulator participating in the event, it was more appropriate not to have one or more vaccine companies with pending applications before the FDA also participating in that event,’ the senior administration official said.
Gottlieb gave a similar reason on CNBC, saying that Pfizer wasn’t attending the summit out of a conflict of interest, not wanting to be near FDA officials ahead of the Friday meeting on the emergency authorization of their vaccine.
At the summit, Trump is expected to take credit for the quick development of vaccines through Operation Warp Speed as well as pressure the FDA to quickly approve an emergency use authorization for both companies’ products.
Pfizer, unlike Moderna, did not take any Operation Warp Speed money to develop its COVID vaccine.
Trump, meanwhile, has 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 the contest.
Other major companies will send representatives to the Tuesday White House summit.
They include FedEx, UPS, CVS, Walgreens and McKesson, STAT reported.
The White House also said Govs. Ron DeSantis of Florida, Bill Lee of Tennessee, Greg Abbott of Texas and John Bel Edwards of Louisiana would participate in a panel.
Only Edwards is a Democrat and he leads a red state.
Dr. Anthony Fauci will be missing the White House event due to a ‘scheduling conflict.’