Manufacturer Of COVID Vaccine Debunks Trump’s Claim For Credit


On Monday, Pfizer revealed that a COVID-19 vaccine that the company had been working on alongside a German firm known as BioNTech had an over 90 percent effectiveness rate, which places the vaccine “on par with highly effective childhood vaccines for diseases such as measles,” The New York Times explains. Officials from the Trump administration, including Vice President Mike Pence and the president’s daughter/ adviser Ivanka Trump, have taken partial credit for the news, crediting the Trump administration’s vaccine development program — called Operation Warp Speed — with the breakthrough. The problem with these pronouncements is that Pfizer was never a part of Operation Warp Speed, and, unlike other vaccine developers, the company received no federal financial support for COVID-19 vaccine work.

Do top officials in the Trump administration even solidly know what’s going on with their own programs? How could they get public pronouncements about a COVID-19 vaccine so wrong after months of the pandemic? How incompetent or just politically craven really are they? The deceptive crediting of the Trump administration with the vaccine success could have a perceived political benefit, after all, increasing Trump World’s stature.

Vice President Pence said that the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine news was “thanks to the public-private partnership forged” by the president — but again, Pfizer has never been a part of that partnership. Ivanka had some more details — she praised “the tireless work of Operation Warp Speed and the partnership it struck with Pfizer, HHS & the Military in July to support distribution [and] logistics” — although Pfizer’s head of vaccine development, Dr. Kathrin Jansen, has unequivocally stated that the company was “never part of the Warp Speed” program. Although it’s true that the federal government has pledged to pay almost $2 billion to Pfizer for huge amounts of the vaccine, once it’s available — the “tireless work of Operation Warp Speed” doesn’t appear to have anything to do with the new announcement of the Pfizer vaccine’s apparent effectiveness.

As the Times notes, Dr. Jansen “sought to distance the company from Operation Warp Speed and presidential politics.” She said that the company was “never part of the Warp Speed” and has “never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone.” In other words — claims of some kind of Trump administration-led breakthrough appear to be false. They didn’t have anything to do with the Pfizer/ BioNTech vaccine operation. At this point, Pfizer “plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of the two-dose vaccine later this month, after it has collected the recommended two months of safety data,” according to the Times.

UPDATE: Pfizer has issued the following statement:

‘Pfizer is one of various vaccine manufacturers participating in Operation Warp Speed as a supplier of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. While Pfizer did reach an advanced purchase agreement with the U.S. government, the company did not accept [Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority] funding for the research and development process. All the investment for R&D was made by Pfizer at risk. Dr. Jansen was emphasizing that last point.’