President Donald Trump said "Operation Warp Speed” will allow people free access to the drug designed via a Pfizer- BioNTech partnership which will protect against COVID-19 infection.
The drug still requires Food & Drug Administration approval via an emergency-use authorization.
As soon as April, he said Friday, the vaccine will be available to the general population free of charge.
Confusion over Pfizer’s participation in the project came earlier this week when Pfizer Senior Vice President Kathrin Jansen said the company was “never part of Operation Warp Speed,” an incident Trump called “a unfortunate misrepresentation,” during Friday’s news conference.
Her further claim that Pfizer didn’t receive federal funding to develop the vaccine, however, is supported by the fact that the deal is what the New York Times is reporting as an advance-purchase agreement – a deal in which no money changes hands until the vaccine is delivered.
“We have never taken any money from the U.S. government,” she said.
Trump said the deal with the company was struck in July to contribute $1.95 billion “to support the mass manufacturing and distribution of 100 million doses,” and took credit for the pharmaceutical giant’s accomplishment.
“As a result of our investment, on Monday, Pfizer announced its (COVID-19) vaccine is more tha 90 percent effective,” he said.
He said the government has the option to purchase an additional 600 million doses “shortly thereafter,” however, a July 22 news release from Pfizer states the contract is for an additional 500 million.
He said, on average, approval of similar drugs can take between eight and 12 years, but Operation Warp Speed, fast-tracked mass production. He boasted that under another administration, the drug would have taken much, much longer.
“What we’ve done would have taken three, four, five years, and would have been in the FDA forvever, he said in the Rose Garden briefing. “This is five times faster than the fastest prior vaccine development in history."