Trump says administration is ‘looking at’ making coronavirus vaccine free
President Trump told reporters at the White House Friday that his administration is “looking at” making coronavirus vaccines free to the public.
“We’re looking at that actually,” Trump told reporters before departing for Camp David when asked if he thought vaccines should be free. He did not offer his personal opinion on the matter.
The Trump administration has faced pressure from progressives to ensure the affordability of any eventual vaccine for the coronavirus, which has sickened more than 1.4 million Americans and killed more than 87,000 since the first known case was identified in January.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) pressed top Trump administration health officials during a hearing earlier this week on whether the vaccine would be available to any American regardless of their income.
“The payment of vaccines is not a responsibility of FDA, but I’m glad to take this back to the task force,” Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Stephen Hahn replied. “I share your concern that this needs to be made available to every American.”
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar during a congressional hearing in February said that the administration hoped to make the vaccine affordable but couldn’t control the cost of it because of the need for investment from the private sector.
“We would want to ensure that we work to make it affordable, but we can’t control that price because we need the private sector to invest,” Azar said during a House budget hearing. “Price controls won’t get us there.”
The president’s remarks came hours after he officially unveiled a public-private partnership called “Operation Warp Speed” aimed at speeding up the development of a vaccine for the novel coronavirus. Trump has expressed hope that a vaccine could be ready as early as the end of the year, an accelerated timeline that has been met with deep skepticism by public health experts.
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