President Donald Trump celebrated the expected approval of the first U.S. vaccine for the coronavirus Tuesday as the White House worked to instill confidence in the massive distribution effort that will largely be executed by President-elect Joe Biden
Trump said the expected approvals are coming before most people thought possible. “They say it’s somewhat of a miracle and I think that’s true,” he declared.
Trump led Tuesday’s White House event celebrating “Operation Warp Speed,” his administration’s effort to produce and distribute safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19. The first vaccine, from drugmaker Pfizer, is expected to receive endorsement by a panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers as soon as this week, with delivery of 100 million doses — enough for 50 million Americans — expected in coming months.
“Every American who wants the vaccine will be able to get the vaccine and we think by spring we’re going to be in a position nobody would have believed possible just a few months ago,” Trump said.
Pfizer developed its vaccine outside of “Operation Warp Speed,” but is partnering with the federal government on manufacturing and distribution.
England began its first vaccinations earlier Tuesday, to great fanfare, as the world mounts its fight against the pandemic that has killed more than 285,000 Americans and some 1.5 million people worldwide.
Trump and his aides hope to tamp down skepticism among some Americans about the vaccines and help build the outgoing Republican president’s legacy.
However, Trump’s administration was also facing new scrutiny Tuesday after failing to lock in a chance to buy millions of additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which has been shown to be highly effective against COVID-19. That decision could delay the delivery of a second batch of doses until Pfizer fulfills other international contracts.
Trump used Tuesday’s event to sign an executive order in which the secretary of Health and Human Services is directed to ensure that Americans have priority access to the vaccine.
A senior administration official said the order would restrict the federal government from delivering doses to other nations until there is excess supply to meet domestic demand, but it was not immediately clear what the practical impact would be.
Tuesday’s “Operation Warp Speed” event featured Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a host of government experts, state leaders and business executives, as the White House looked to explain that the vaccine is safe and lay out the administration’s plans to bring it to the American people. But officials from Biden’s transition team, which will oversee the bulk of the largest vaccination program in the nation’s history once he takes office Jan. 20, were not invited.
Source: Associated Press – ZEKE MILLER