Trump orders priority access to COVID-19 vaccines for Americans

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US President Donald Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday to ensure that priority access to COVID-19 vaccines purchased by the US government is given to the American people before helping other countries, senior administration officials said Monday .

The Trump administration is confident it will have enough vaccine to immunize anyone who wants a vaccine by the end of the second quarter of 2021, an official said, disputing a New York Times article that the government has refused when Pfizer Inc offered at the end of the summer to sell more doses of the vaccine in the United States.

Trump, who has come under heavy criticism for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, is eager to take credit for the rapid development and distribution of a vaccine.

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An official said the executive order would lead to the formulation of guidelines for U.S. government agencies to help other countries procure the vaccine once demand in the United States is met.

It was unclear why an executive order was needed to ensure vaccines would first be distributed nationally, although the order appears to be in part designed to underscore Trump’s “America First” philosophy ahead of the news. administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

The White House is holding a summit on Tuesday to explain plans to distribute vaccines through Trump’s Operation Warp Speed, which is organizing the effort. Trump and other officials will speak.

Vaccine developers Pfizer Inc and Moderna Inc will not be attending.

A White House official said the companies were not coming because they had active claims pending before the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. A senior FDA official, Dr. Peter Marks, is due to address Tuesday’s event.

Guests at the meeting include drug distributors, pharmacies, and logistics companies such as McKesson Corp, Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc, CVS Health Corp, United Parcel Service Inc and FedEx Corp.

The New York Times reported that Pfizer may not be able to deliver more of its vaccine to the United States until next June due to its commitments to other countries.

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An administration official noted that Pfizer’s vaccine was still in clinical trials last summer and that the government had made advanced deals to acquire several other candidate vaccines.

“Anyone who wanted to sell us, guaranteed without EUA (Emergency Use Clearance from the FDA), hundreds of millions of doses in July and August was just not going to get the government money,” he added. no one.

About 85% of long-term care and assisted living facilities nationwide have signed up for a mobile vaccination service provided by CVS and Walgreens, the official said. The US government was concerned about vaccine-related cyberattacks and had protected itself against them, he added.

Pfizer spokeswoman Sharon Castillo said, “The US government has placed an initial order for 100 million doses for the COVID-19 vaccine from Pfizer-BioNTech, and Pfizer is ready to begin shipping the initial doses shortly. after receiving emergency use clearance from the FDA. Any additional dose beyond 100 million is subject to a separate and mutually acceptable agreement. “

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told NBC News the U.S. government has the option to purchase an additional 500 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine, but declined to say whether the administration is pursuing that option.

Representatives of Democratic President-elect Biden’s transition team were not invited to the summit. Trump, a Republican who lost the Nov. 3 election to Biden, refused to back down.

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