Story at a glance
- The New York Times reported that the Trump administration turned down the chance to purchase more vaccine doses from Pfizer.
- Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb said the drugmaker and U.S. government will likely strike a deal.
Ahead of the first rounds of Pfizer and BioNTech’s recently approved COVID-19 vaccines being administered following FDA approval, reports emerged of the U.S. government turning down additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine candidate in The New York Times, prompting questions as to how much vaccine supply will be available for the American public.
The Times wrote that administration officials confirmed the Trump administration rejected an offer by the drug company to obtain more doses and is now in talks to regain more doses of the vaccine following positive data from clinical trials and FDA approval.
While negotiations are reportedly ongoing, the company can’t promise the more than 100 million doses to the U.S. government since it signed deals to supply other countries.
The U.S. did sign a contract with Pfizer to deliver 100 million doses on July 22, and spokespeople at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the Times that they “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, including 100 million doses on the way from Moderna.”
A senior Trump administration official reportedly told reporters that the U.S. government turned down additional doses of the potential vaccine because the company had not yet offered proof the vaccine was effective and safe.
Separately, Trump administration officials told CNN that the federal government did not turn down Pfizer’s earlier offer.
Another administration official added that the Trump administration is currently in the process of negotiating more doses with Pfizer, noting that the administration feels “absolutely confident” that there will be a “sufficient number of doses to vaccinate all Americans who desire one before the end of the second quarter of 2021.”
However, more reports conflict with the statement from administration officials.
Scott Gottlieb, the former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), confirmed that the U.S. government indeed turned down Pfizer’s offer, but as recently as November.
“There were multiple conversations with the U.S. government about taking more supply in the second quarter. The company wasn’t taken up on that offer, as recently as November,” Gottlieb said on CNBC.
Gottlieb is a Pfizer board member, and he noted that the U.S. government will likely be able to strike a deal with Pfizer on securing more vaccines.
“I think they’re going to work this out. I think hopefully we’ll find a way to increase supply and be able to get the government what the government needs,” he stated.