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With Americans making up about 20 percent of the global COVID-19 death toll, there’s no question that the U.S. government failed in its response to the pandemic. Now the Trump administration appears to be taking yet another L as the country gears up to roll out new vaccines.
According to a new report from the New York Times, Donald Trump’s team declined an offer from pharmaceutical company Pfizer to sell the government additional doses of its new COVID-19 vaccine in late summer. As a result, Pfizer may not be able to provide a larger quantity of its vaccine to the U.S., because of commitments the company made to other countries.
Pfizer is one of two companies currently waiting on emergency authorization for use of its vaccine. Last month the company revealed that test results indicated the vaccine is 90 percent effective. The vaccine is a two-dose treatment, meaning that the country’s current agreement of 100 million doses can be used to vaccinate 50 million Americans. Both Pfizer and fellow pharmaceutical company Moderna are expected to be approved for use by the FDA as soon as this coming weekend.
The Times reports that Trump officials are now scrambling to purchase more doses of the vaccine. Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday that will “ensure that United States government prioritizes getting the vaccine to American citizens before sending it to other nations.” It’s unclear how that order will expand the country’s access to new vaccines.
However, the Trump administration doesn’t seem worried about its ability to ensure that all Americans have access to the vaccine. “We 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,” a spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Human Services told the Times.
Right now Moderna and Pfizer’s vaccines are the only treatments being reviewed for emergency use.
The European Union announced in November that it had purchased 200 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, along with an optional 100 million doses. Britain will begin administering vaccines beginning on Tuesday, becoming the first country in the EU to do so.