Vice President Mike Pence has misleadingly credited President Donald Trump’s “leadership” and Operation Warp Speed, the administration’s program to accelerate development and delivery of a coronavirus vaccine, for a vaccine developed by Pfizer, despite the fact that the company received no support from the U.S. government beyond an agreement to buy an initial 100 million doses.
After Pfizer and partner BioNTech announced final results from trials of their vaccine showing it to be 95% effective, much higher than the 50% the Food and Drug Administration had said it was willing to accept, Pence tweeted, “Because of [Trump’s] leadership & Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer completed its trial with a vaccine that is 95% effective on patients, including Seniors,” he wrote.
While Pfizer does have a deal with Operation Warp Speed — $1.95 billion to secure an initial 100 million doses, enough to vaccinate 50 million people — this was to ensure that there would be a market for the vaccine and to incentivize the company’s research, with no money paid out until the vaccine is approved.
Since announcing promising early results from the trial last week, Pfizer has repeatedly and publicly emphasized its independence from Operation Warp Speed while Trump and his allies have tried to take credit for the work.
In a recent press release announcing tests of delivery methods for its vaccine Tuesday, the company said the vaccine’s development and manufacturing “have been entirely self-funded, with billions of dollars already invested at risk.”
When preliminary results were announced last week, Dr. Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research and development, told the New York Times that their team “were never part of the Warp Speed” and had “never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone.”
After Pfizer and BioNTech announced early data that showed their Covid-19 vaccine to be 90% effective, Ivanka Trump was swift to praise the news and misleadingly credit Operation Warp Speed and her father for the vaccine’s success. Others in her father’s circle followed suit, including the Vice President and former UN ambassador Nikki Haley. Donald Trump himself — in between false declarations of election victory and voter fraud — took responsibility for vaccine’s success, later accusing Pfizer of deliberately delaying the results of its preliminary analysis for political purposes and to deny him a pre-election “WIN.” In announcing the final results Wednesday, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla issued a thinly veiled rebuttal against these accusations, saying that “We continue to move at the speed of science to compile all the data collected thus far.”
What To Watch For
Moderna, which trails Pfizer closely in the race to develop a safe and effective Covid-19 vaccine, announced early data that showed its Covid-19 vaccine to be 94.5% effective Monday. Its storage requirements are less onerous than Pfizer’s, which could give it an edge when it comes to distribution and overall rollout. Final results from its Phase 3 trial can be expected within the next few weeks.