The Minister of Health and Welfare, Alex Azar, said pharmaceutical company Pfizer was “very heavily involved in Operation Warp Speed” after vaccine manufacturer COVID-19 distanced itself from the Trump administration program.
Azar spoke on Tuesday in CNBC’s Squawk Box after Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s Director of Vaccine Research and Development, told the New York Times that it was “never part” of Operation Warp Speed. The efforts launched in May are aimed at accelerating the development and distribution of vaccines, treatments and diagnostic tools in the midst of the COVID 19 pandemic.
The Minister of Health told CNBC: “I don’t know why they [Pfizer] originally made this [statement]. I have a two billion dollar contract for 100 million doses and an option for another 500 million that says they are very much part of Operation Warp Speed”. The US signed the $1.95 billion contract with Pfizer in July.
“We supported them with ingredients, we help them with the distribution of syringes, needles, dry ice for shipping, distribution, planning,” he said.
Following Jansen’s remarks, the company made it clear that it is involved in Operation Warp Speed as a supplier but has not received any government funding. A Pfizer spokesman said Monday in a statement seen by Washington Newsday that it is not accepting research and development funding from the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, which is an office of the Department of Health and Human Services.
On Monday, Pfizer reported that its COVID-19 injection is 90 percent effective in preventing the disease, a significant step in efforts to combat the pandemic.
Officials from the Trump administration and allies followed, linking the program to the results. Vice President Mike Pence broke his silence after President Trump’s defeat in the 2020 election to tweet: “Thanks to the public-private partnership forged by President @realDonaldTrump, @pfizer announced that its coronavirus vaccine trial is EFFECTIVE and prevents infection of 90% of its volunteers”.
GIANT NEWS: Thanks to the public-private partnership forged by President @realDonaldTrump, @pfizer announced that its coronavirus vaccine study is EFFECTIVE and prevents the infection of 90% of its volunteers.
– Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) November 9, 2020
Nikkie Haley, Trump’s former ambassador to the UN, thanked the president and Operation Warp Speed in a tweet.
The news that the @pfizer vaccine is 90% effective is great news for the American people! Many thanks to @realDonaldTrump and Operation Warp Speed. This will be one of the most important measures the government takes in response to this pandemic. â¤ï¸ðºð¸#US Strong
– Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) November 9, 2020
In September, Pfizer CEO Dr. Albert Bourla told CBS News that the company did not want to allocate R&D funds to “free our scientists from all bureaucracy”.
Bourla said that getting money “always comes with strings attached” and continued that he wanted to “keep Pfizer out of politics”.