White House staffers who work in close physical proximity with Donald Trump are expected to receive vaccine doses for the coronavirus in the coming days, making them among the first Americans to be inoculated.
The first wave of the FDA-approved vaccine from the drug manufacturer Pfizer is set for distribution this week. It will be going to health care workers across the US as well as nursing home patients, who are getting priority because there is a finite number of doses in the first roll-out.
Senior White House officials who work closely with the president will be among the first in line to receive the vaccine, the New York Times reported on Sunday, citing two sources with knowledge of the distribution plan.
The administration hopes to eventually inoculate everyone who works in the White House but people with direct access to the president — senior aides and some of their top assistants, presumably — will get it first.
Mr Trump and First Lady Melania Trump were among the handful of high-level personnel within the White House who became sick in September and October after a Rose Garden event for Supreme Court Justice Amy Comey Barrett, whom Mr Trump had nominated to succeed the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
The president spent multiple days at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in October receiving state-of-the-art treatment.
White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows was one of another wave of advisers who fell ill with Covid after the president’s Election Night watch party at the White House in November.
After making a full recovery, Mr Trump has claimed that he is “immune” from the disease, even though the scientific evidence is unclear whether people who have had the virus can suffer from it again.
The first FedEx and UPS trucks departed Pfizer’s manufacturing plant in Michigan on Sunday to deliver packages carrying thousands of vaccine doses to all 50 states.
The executives of those shipping companies assured lawmakers last week that they were prepared to deliver the vaccine on time. The Pfizer vaccine must be stored at minus 70 Celsius.
Early in the pandemic, Mr Trump publicly claimed the virus was no deadlier than the flu. However he had admitted to journalist Bob Woodward privately that that wasn’t true.
The president did not publicly wear a mask until July — months after public health officials had begun urging Americans to do so.
His campaign routinely flouted local safety rules and guidelines regarding masks and large public gatherings. Conservative activist and former presidential candidate Herman Cain died of Covid-19 after attending Mr Trump’s rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma this summer.
Mr Trump and the GOP have sought to shift any blame for their handling of the crisis onto the communist government of the country where the virus is believed to have originated - China.
“We must hold accountable the nation which unleashed this plague onto the world, China,” the president said during remote remarks to the UN General Assembly in September.
“The Chinese government, and the World Health Organization — which is virtually controlled by China — falsely declared that there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission,” Mr Trump said.
“Later, they falsely said people without symptoms would not spread the disease ... The United Nations must hold China accountable for their actions.”
Mr Trump has pulled the US out of the World Health Organization (WHO) over the claim that it is too aligned with China.
President-elect Joe Biden has said that he will immediately re-enter the WHO when he is inaugurated.
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