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Pfizer COVID-19 Vaccine Was 'Never Part' of Trump's Operation Warp Speed, Says Research Head

Newsweek logo Newsweek 11/9/2020 Jacob Jarvis
a man riding a skateboard down the side of a building: A man wearing a mask walks past the Pfizer headquarters near Grand Central Station, New York City. Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine program was not part of the Trump Administration's Operation Warp Speed, its head of research said. © Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images A man wearing a mask walks past the Pfizer headquarters near Grand Central Station, New York City. Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine program was not part of the Trump Administration's Operation Warp Speed, its head of research said.

The Pfizer vaccine program, the progress of which has been welcomed by President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, was not part of the White House's Operation Warp Speed, according to the firm's head of vaccine research.

Launched earlier this year, Operation Warp Speed was set up with the goal to help produce and deliver 300 million doses of vaccines with initial doses of these to be available from January 2021.

Pfizer Inc. on Monday announced that its vaccine in development with BioNTech was "more than 90 percent effective," according to early trial data which still faces rigorous scrutiny before it can receive regulatory approval.

Trump welcomed the Pfizer announcement branding it "SUCH GREAT NEWS!", as did Pence, who is head of the White House's Coronavirus Task Force.

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While government figures welcome the program's progress, Kathrin Jansen, the head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, sought to distance it from them.


Video: Pfizer vaccine trial success signals breakthrough in pandemic battle (Reuters)

She told The New York Times: "We were never part of the Warp Speed. We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone."

A Pfizer press release from July announced that, in agreement with Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government would receive 100 million doses of the vaccine—subject to FDA approval—for $1.95 billion, with the option to acquire up to 500 million more.

The aim was for these doses to be distributed for free.

"Expanding Operation Warp Speed's diverse portfolio by adding a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech increases the odds that we will have a safe, effective vaccine as soon as the end of this year," said HHS Secretary Alex Azar at the time, per the release.

Following the update on the vaccine's efficacy, Pence tweeted: "Thanks to the public-private partnership forged by President @realDonaldTrump, @pfizer announced its Coronavirus Vaccine trial is EFFECTIVE, preventing infection in 90% of its volunteers."

His tweet did not mention Operation Warp Speed.

Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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