President Trump declared victory over naysayers Tuesday, saying he sped multiple COVID-19 vaccines through the pipeline in a single year, while nudging the Food and Drug Administration to approve Pfizer’s version this week.
“Gotta get it moving,” Mr. Trump said. “Hopefully that will go very quickly.”
Mr. Trump said Moderna’s vaccine is right behind it, with an FDA meeting set for Dec. 17, and more vaccines will come along in the coming weeks.
“We have some big ones we’re going to be announcing very soon,” Mr. Trump said. “Johnson and Johnson and others. They’re all coming in and they’re coming in very quickly.”
The president said he is willing to invoke the Defense Production Act to procure additional doses of vaccine, if needed, as the administration denies reports it waved off chances to get more doses of Pfizer’s shots.
“We don’t think it will be necessary,” Mr. Trump said of the DPA.
Mr. Trump also signed an executive order that says any supply of U.S.-secured doses must go to Americans before they’re sent to countries abroad, and refused to acknowledge that Joseph R. Biden will likely oversee the vaccination campaign.
He said “whoever” the next administration is will benefit from the work done.
The summit began with clips of people saying there is no way a vaccine could be available by the end of 2020, a rebuke to early naysayers.
“From the instant the coronavirus invaded our shores, we raced into action to develop a safe and effective vaccine at breakneck speed,” Mr. Trump said.
He said the timeline “could be infinity” in normal times under other administrations.
“The gold-standard vaccine has been done in less than nine months,” Mr. Trump said.
Pfizer did not take federal money for the development of its vaccine, however, and the U.K. beat the rest of the West and began vaccinating residents with the company’s shots Tuesday.
Mr. Trump touted his efforts to produce ventilators and testing equipment to fight the coronavirus but said little about the swirling crisis that is killing an average of over 2,000 people per day.
Critics have faulted Mr. Trump’s conflicting advice on mask-wearing and crowds — he told packed rallies the U.S. was “rounding the turn” even as the crisis worsened — and say he should be spending more time on the fight instead of focusing on election results showing he lost to Mr. Biden.
Responding to questions about the crisis, Mr. Trump said the vaccine was his “goal” and that some people have built-in immunity from getting infected and recovering.
“They’re Christmas parties and frankly we’ve reduced the parties very substantially, as you know,” he said.
He also said a lot of attendees are wearing masks.
An outside advisory panel will discuss Pfizer’s data with the FDA Thursday before voting on whether the vaccine deserves emergency-use authorization to begin immunizing health workers and long-term care residents.
The panel’s recommendations are not binding to the FDA but carry significant weight.
Administration officials say the first shipments of Pfizer vaccines will be put on planes within 24 hours of FDA approval, which could be as soon as the weekend.