President Trump said on Friday that pharmaceutical giant Pfizer offered an “unfortunate misrepresentation” when the company distanced itself from Operation Warp Speed.
“Pfizer said that it was not part of Warp Speed, but that turned out to be an unfortunate misrepresentation,” Trump said in a news conference. “It was an unfortunate mistake that they made when they said that.”
Trump was referring to a Pfizer executive’s comments from Sunday about the development of the company’s COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
“We were never part of the Warp Speed,” Kathrin Jansen, senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, told the New York Times on Sunday. “We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone.”
Earlier this week, Pfizer and BioNTech said clinical data showed their COVID-19 vaccine candidate to be 90% effective and that they could file for emergency use authorization with U.S. Food and Drug Administration by the third week of November.
Trump said that the vaccine will be provided by Pfizer free of charge.
In July, Pfizer struck a $1.95 billion deal with the federal government as part of Operation Warp Speed, in an effort to deliver 100 million doses of the vaccine. The money was part of an advance-purchase agreement, meaning Pfizer did not accept government money for vaccine development, unlike other frontrunners Moderna and Astrazeneca. Instead, the money will go toward the manufacturing and distribution of the vaccine.
However, the deal offered a strong incentive. Health organizations often use such market guarantees to encourage for-profit manufacturers to supply vaccines in developing countries.
Trump projected that the coronavirus vaccine would be available to everyone by April, exceeding “any and all expectations.”
“It will be approved very, very quickly. If you had a different administration, what we’ve done would’ve taken three, four, five years,” Trump continued. “It would’ve been in the FDA forever.”
The president then touted the U.S. economic recovery under coronavirus.
“The U.S. experienced the smallest economic contraction and the most rapid economic recovery of any Western nation, while healthy Americans have gone back to work and schools. We continue to spare no expense to protect the vulnerable.”