One of the problems currently facing the U.S. when it comes to vaccinating people against COVID-19 is that a not insignificant number of people are wary of taking a drug that was developed under the Trump administration. That wariness likely has something to do with the president’s penchant for lying all the time, as well as his varying claims over the course of the pandemic that the virus could be treated with hydroxychloroquine, or that people should inject disinfectant into their veins. At this point, despite it going against every inclination in his body, it would probably be wise for Trump to step aside and let other people from the administration, like perhaps Anthony Fauci, communicate to people the lifesaving importance of the vaccines about to be available, both so they can hear it from an actual health professional and so they don’t associate the drugs with Donald Trump.
Instead, the president has apparently decided to host a “vaccine summit,” the purpose of which is seemingly to take credit for the vaccines and to maybe jokingly lobby to have one of them be named Trump. And in a turn of events that will probably result in an unhinged Twitter rant some time tonight or early tomorrow morning, the two companies who will soon bring their drugs to the market want nothing to do with it. Per Stat News:
Pfizer and Moderna, the two major drug manufacturers likely to receive emergency authorizations for a COVID-19 vaccine in the coming weeks, have rejected invitations from President Trump to appear at a White House “Vaccine Summit” on Tuesday, according to two sources familiar with the event’s planning…. The vaccine manufacturers’ absences will be conspicuous at a “Vaccine Summit,” an event that drug industry figures and one Trump administration official largely viewed as a public relations stunt when STAT first reported the event last week.
The event appeared to be an effort for the administration to claim credit for the rapid development of a COVID-19 vaccine and to pressure the Food and Drug Administration to move quickly on an authorization…. The White House scheduled the vaccine summit just two days before a FDA advisory committee is set to publicly examine data submitted by Pfizer. A similar hearing for Moderna’s vaccine is set for Dec. 17, one week later. Both vaccines are highly effective, according to data released by the companies, and are widely expected to receive emergency approvals soon after the FDA formally considers their applications.
One Trump administration official said that Peter Marks, the FDA official in charge of the agency division overseeing vaccine approvals, may attend the event but the agency has “viewed the event with trepidation given its status as the regulator of most companies invited to participate.”
Last month, the Trump administration rushed to take credit for the news that Pfizer’s vaccine was 90% effective in early trials, despite the fact that the manufacturer had only struck a deal with the government on vaccine distribution, not development. And in related news, Team Trump was apparently given the opportunity over the summer to buy additional doses of Pfizer’s forthcoming vaccine but decided to pass, a decision that doesn’t look great in retrospect:
Now Pfizer may not be able provide more of its vaccine to the United States until next June because of its commitments to other countries, they said…. The vaccine being produced by Pfizer and its German partner, BioNTech, is a two-dose treatment, meaning that 100 million doses is enough to vaccinate only 50 million Americans. The vaccine is expected to receive authorization for emergency use in the U.S. as soon as this weekend, with another vaccine, developed by Moderna, also likely to be approved for emergency use soon.
On Nov. 11—two days after Pfizer first announced early results indicating that its vaccine was more than 90 percent effective—the European Union announced that it had finalized a supply deal with Pfizer and BioNTech for 200 million doses, a deal they began negotiating in months earlier. Shipments could begin by the end of the year, and the contract includes an option for 100 million more doses. Asked if the Trump administration had missed a crucial chance over the summer to snap up more doses for Americans, a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services said, “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.”