Trump to order government to vaccinate Americans first

President Trump will sign an executive order on Tuesday affirming that Americans should receive coronavirus vaccines before any are distributed to other nations. 

Trump will sign the order during a White House summit on Operation Warp Speed, the public-private program aimed at accelerating the delivery of a vaccine for COVID-19.

“The executive order reaffirms to the American people that we’re going to put America first working to ensure that they have access to a vaccine,” a senior administration official told reporters on a call Monday.

The executive order also lays out a framework for U.S. government agencies to coordinate in order to assist foreign countries in getting immunizations after the American public is vaccinated, according to the official.

“Once we have ensured the ability to meet the needs of the American people, it would be then in the interest of the United States to facilitate international access to COVID vaccines,” the official said.

Officials did not provide more information about precisely what the executive order would do. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, said he could not comment on the executive order when asked about it on “Good Morning America” Tuesday morning. 

“Frankly, I don’t know and frankly I am staying out of this. I can’t comment,” Slaoui said, adding that he believed they would be able to deliver the vaccines “as needed” and that he didn’t know what the order was about.

Trump will deliver remarks at Tuesday’s summit, during which he plans to discuss the administration’s success in vaccine development and congratulate those involved, according to another official on Monday’s call. The summit is aimed at building public confidence in COVID-19 vaccines and will involve federal health officials, governors, and representatives from companies helping to distribute the vaccine, but not vaccine manufacturers. 

Trump has repeatedly taken credit for the swift development of a vaccine for the coronavirus.

Vaccines produced by both Pfizer and Moderna demonstrated 95 percent efficacy in phase three clinical trials, and officials expect the first vaccines to go out to elderly individuals and health care workers as soon as later this month, depending on when the Food and Drug Administration grants emergency use authorization. Vaccines are not expected to be available to the general public until the spring at the earliest.

Meanwhile, the United Kingdom became the first country to grant emergency use authorization of Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine last week, with the rollout beginning on Tuesday. 

The positive news on vaccines comes as the pandemic worsens. The coronavirus has infected nearly 15 million Americans in total and killed more than 280,000 people in the United States, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Trump has regularly downplayed the pandemic and proclaimed as recently as this weekend that the U.S. is “rounding the turn” on the coronavirus. Health experts have warned about the potential for further spikes in coronavirus cases during the holiday season.

–Updated on Dec. 8 at 8:06 a.m.

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