The chief scientist for Operation Warp Speed appeared Tuesday on Good Morning America morning and said that he doesn’t know what President Donald Trump’s vaccine executive order, which was put in place to ensure that all Americans have access to a vaccine before the United States begins aiding foreign countries, actually does.
Host George Stephanopoulos began by asking about reports that the Trump administration had passed on an offer from Pfizer last summer to provide more doses of its vaccine. Operation Warp Speed chief scientist Dr. Moncef Slaoui said that their strategy was to build a “portfolio” of six different vaccines because at that time it was unclear which vaccines would work and which ones wouldn’t.
“Now, in the summer, if somebody came to us and said, let’s buy more of this vaccine or that vaccine, no one reasonably would buy more from any one of those vaccines because we didn’t know which one would work and which one may be better than the other,” Slaoui said.
The doctor noted that once it became clear when one vaccine would perform better than another, they would begin ordering more doses and helping the supplier produce enough doses if necessary.
Stephanopoulos then asked if there’s anything that Operation Warp Speed or the government can do to ensure that there are enough vaccines for those who need them. Pfizer said that due to supply chain issues, they won’t have the doses necessary until June or July, Stephanopoulos said. (RELATED: FDA Releases Tranche Of Pfizer Data And Documents, Clearing Way For Vaccine’s Emergency Approval)
“We are comfortable with getting vaccines to the people who need them as soon as possible” because Pfizer has enough doses and they will “work with Pfizer to try and increase capacity and have those vaccines available,” Slaoui responded.
“We have two more vaccines from [Johnson&Johnson] and AstraZeneca that are completing phase three trials in January and most likely, I hope, be approved for use in February,” he added. “We’ll have tens of millions of doses from those vaccines participating to the volume of vaccines we need to immunize the U.S. Population as we promised all of it by the middle of the year 2021 and that’s still on track.”
“Can you explain this executive order the president is going to be putting out?” Stephanopoulos asked. “I don’t quite understand it. He’s saying that foreign countries aren’t going to be able to get the vaccine until everybody here in the United States gets it. It sounds like the problem is the opposite, Pfizer has made deals with other countries that are going to limit the supply here.”
“Frankly, I don’t know and, frankly, I’m staying out of this,” Slaoui said. “I can’t comment.”
“But you’re the chief science adviser for Operation Warp Speed,” Stephanopoulos said.
“Our work is, you know, rolling. We have plans,” Slaoui responded. “We feel that we can deliver the vaccines as needed so I don’t know exactly what this order is about.”