Pfizer announced Monday that a coronavirus vaccine the company was working on had proven to be 90 percent effective at preventing COVID-19. It is not only great news for the country, but appeared to be a big win for the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed. Vice President Mike Pence praised the ‘public-private partnership’ for spurring development of the vaccine.
It turns out that Fox News’s Sean Hannity was essentially right when he said that Trump could cure cancer and the media still wouldn’t like him. Pfizer immediately distanced itself from its partnership with the Trump administration. The media quickly followed suit, determining that the President deserves no credit for the vaccine’s quick development.
Dr Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research and development, told the New York Times, ‘We were never part of the Warp Speed…We have never taken any money from the US government, or from anyone.’
NBC News White House correspondent Geoff Bennett piled on, writing, ‘As Pence claims credit, Pfizer says it did NOT join in the administration’s partnership.’ Twitter also had an item on their ‘trending’ section headlined ‘Pfizer is not part of Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer senior vice president says.’
This is the type of statement that the left-wing fact checkers would describe as ‘technically true, but misleading’. Pfizer was the only US drug company to not accept money for research and development of the vaccine. They did, however, strike a $1.95 billion contract with the government.
The deal was that the Trump administration would give Pfizer $1.95 billion for 100 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine if it was completed by the end of the year. The New York Times described the partnership as ‘part of what the White House calls the Warp Speed project’ in July. Pfizer also said at the time that they did not accept federal funding for research and development because they thought dealing with government contracts would slow down their progress. Declining government funds at that time was thus more strategic than principled. The company, of course, would still feel comfortable sinking its own money into development knowing that the government had agreed to purchase its product regardless of if other vaccines became available in the meantime.
Pfizer did not reply when The Spectator asked why it is now distancing itself from the partnership. The pharmaceutical giant did issue a statement clarifying that it is in fact ‘one of various vaccine manufacturers participating in Operation Warp Speed’.
A White House spokesperson said: ‘President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed expedited the regulatory process and provided billions of dollars to a portfolio of companies to deliver a safe and effective vaccine five times faster than any other in history.
‘Pfizer was among the companies that began working with the Administration beginning in March, followed by an investment of $1.95 billion announced in July to support large-scale manufacturing and distribution of 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine candidate to the American people free of charge.
‘Today’s announcement demonstrates the historic success of President Trump’s unprecedented public-private partnership, harnessing the full power of the federal government, private sector, military and scientific community to save millions of lives.’
It seems awfully scummy for Pfizer to publicly rebuke the Trump administration when it almost certainly intends to still sell the government its vaccines for a cool $2 billion…
Update 6:17 p.m. ET:
Pfizer issued the following statement to The Spectator claiming Dr Jansen’s comments were ‘taken out of context’:
‘Pfizer is proud to be one of various vaccine manufacturers participating in Operation Warp Speed as a supplier of a potential COVID-19 vaccine. While Pfizer did reach an advanced purchase agreement with the US government, the company did not accept BARDA funding for the research and development process. All the investment for R&D and manufacturing has been made by Pfizer at risk. Dr Jansen’s comment, which was taken out of context, was just emphasizing that last point.’