Republicans are lashing out at Pfizer for making the announcement of the COVID-19 vaccine days after the election. They are also trying to take credit for it despite the fact that the Trump administration had no involvement in the development of the vaccine, which was found to be more than 90% effective in preventing symptomatic Covid-19 infections in an interim analysis.
Vice President Mike Pence was among Trump administration officials saying support from the government’s Operation Warp Speed program helped accelerate the development of the vaccine. However, Pfizer didn’t receive any funding from Operation Warp Speed for the development, clinical trial and manufacturing of the vaccine. Rather, its partner, BioNTech SE, has received money —from the German government.
As noted by Bloomberg News, Berlin gave the German company $445 million in an agreement in September to help accelerate the vaccine by building out manufacturing and development capacity in its home market.
Other Republicans, including Donald Trump Jr. and Texas Senator Ted Cruz, blasted the pharmaceutical giant, questioning the timing of Pfizer’s release of its positive data on Monday, almost a week after the presidential election — suggesting that the information could’ve changed the outcome and tipped the scales toward President Donald Trump, who lost to Democratic nominee Joe Biden.
Pfizer said on Oct. 27, a week before Election Day, that it hadn’t met the threshold for positive cases that would’ve allowed it to report the data. After that, it revised its trial protocols to raise that threshold higher, after consulting with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on what would be acceptable to gain approval.
Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla said that the drug giant has avoided taking U.S. taxpayer dollars for research and development purposes.
“I wanted to liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy,” Bourla said, according to Bloomberg. “When you get money from someone, that always comes with strings. They want to see how we are growing to progress, what types of moves you are going to do. They want reports. I didn’t want to have any of that.”
“Basically I gave them an open checkbook so that they can worry only about scientific challenges, not anything else. And also, I wanted to keep Pfizer out of politics, by the way,” Bourla added.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) November 9, 2020