December 9th, 2020
Trump may sign executive order prioritizing Americans over other nations for COVID-19 vaccine; Slaoui says “I don’t know”
Fox News, citing senior administration officials, says that President Trump is expected to sign an executive order to ensure that the U.S. government gives vaccines to all Americans before aiding other nations.
The officials told Fox News that Trump vaccine’s order would reemphasize that Trump’s priority has been “an America First approach".According to Fox News: "The official said that the executive order is “clear and is directing that we prioritize access to the American people before working with partners and allies to provide access to the vaccine.”According to The New York Times, the executive order “appears to have no real teeth” so it’s likely that this directive could be President Trump’s attempt at making a grand “America first” statement while not actually following through with anything actionable or meaningful. Indeed, pronouncements about the order have been vague and lacking much detail.
Dr Moncef Slaoui, the chief science adviser to the administration’s “Operation Warp Speed,” didn’t give any clear answer when asked about this executive order.
On Tuesday, ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos questioned Slaoui over the executive order and over reports that the Trump administration didn’t accept offers in the summer to buy additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine.Multiple outlets are reporting that the Trump administration opted last summer to not secure millions of additional doses of one of the coronavirus vaccines. As it stands now, the United States has an order for 100 million Pfizer vaccines, but that would only cover 50 million Americans since it is a double dose vaccine. This story and many in the media seem be predicated on the assumption that the Pfizer vaccine is the only option currently being pursued. This eschews the Moderna formula which has a longer shelf-life, doesn't require as low a temperature to ship and "By the time the first American death was announced a month later, the vaccine had already been manufactured and shipped to the National Institutes of Health"CNET reported "Pfizer, if authorized, expects to produce up to 50 million vaccine doses in 2020 and 1.3 billion in 2021. Moderna plans to ship 20 million doses in 2020 and another 500 million to 1 billion in 2021, if authorized. With over 330 million people in the US alone, not everyone will be able to get a vaccine at once"Focusing solely on the Pfizer vaccine out of the dozens in development, such as the Moderna option doesn't present the whole story. According to the Guardian "Health and Human Services secretary Alex Azar told NBC the administration is “continuing to work across manufacturers to expand the availability of releasable, of FDA-approved vaccine as quickly as possible. We do still have that option for an additional 500m doses.”Indeed, there will be several vaccines available for Americans (although it will be at a rate that will not allow access to most people until mid 2021) but some wonder how the Trump administration can say it is putting America first when it has passed on rapidly vaccinating millions of Americans. The proposed Executive Order seems contradictory to previous actions by President Trump’s team.
“Pfizer is now saying they’re not going to have the doses we need until June or July,” Stephanopoulos said.
To this, Slaoui replied that his team was “comfortable we are going to be getting vaccines to people as soon as possible".However, he didn’t clear the timeline and whether or not he was talking about the full population in the US...and not those most vulnerable to the virus.
When the host noted how Pfizer’s deals with other countries would “limit” vaccine supply to the US, Slaoui said “Frankly, I don’t know,” and “frankly, I’m staying out of this. So, I can’t comment. I honestly don’t know”.Politico reports that White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied the Times report Tuesday, telling Fox News that “it’s just simply not the case that we were offered more [vaccines] and rejected them.”
And despite concerns over purchasing availability, McEnany said the U.S. “will get the next batch in short order,” adding that “those negotiations are ongoing.”