The Trump administration declined an offer from Pfizer to buy more doses of its COVID-19 vaccine at the end of the summer, according to several reports.
The New York Times first reported Monday that Pfizer offered to sell the U.S. government more of its promising vaccine candidate, developed in partnership with the German company BioNTech. The U.S. agreed to buy 100 million doses of the Pfizer drug in July, but the vaccine takes two injections to work, meaning the contract is only enough for 50 million people. (At the time, there were several promising vaccine candidates, but none had shown widespread efficacy in late-stage, large-scale trials).
Pfizer has since struck deals with many countries, including the United Kingdom and Australia, and the Times added that the company may not be able to provide the U.S. with more of its vaccine than it already promised due to its commitments to other nations. ABC News later confirmed the report, citing a senior administration official familiar with the talks.
The drug company told the Times that “any additional doses beyond the 100 million are subject to a separate and mutually acceptable agreement,” but did not elaborate on how much time an additional contract would take to fulfill.
Last month, Pfizer announced trial data showing the vaccine was more than 90% effective, prompting the company to apply for approval from the Food and Drug Administration for its emergency use in the U.S. The vaccine could receive FDA authorization as soon as this weekend (another candidate from Moderna has also shown to be extremely effective in trials, and that company has also asked for emergency approval).
The White House, Department of Health and Human Services and Pfizer did not respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
In a statement to Fox News, The White House said The New York Times report was “not true” and accused Pfizer of attempting to negotiate in public. HHS told the Times that it was confident of its deal with Pfizer and other vaccine suppliers, stating: “We are confident that we will have 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine as agreed to in our contract, and beyond that, we have five other vaccine candidates.”
The United Kingdom will begin distributing 800,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday, the first Western country to do so. The initial round of inoculations will go to people 80 or older who are hospitalized or have doctors appointments scheduled, as well as to some workers in nursing homes.
Fox News reported Monday that President Donald Trump plans to sign an executive order this week to ensure that those in the U.S. would have access to a coronavirus vaccine before the federal government assists other nations.
“The priority is to make sure we distribute these vaccines to Americans before we start shipping them around the world to get international access,” an administration official told the outlet.
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