Speaking to CNBC on Tuesday, Dr Gottlieb said “Pfizer did offer an additional allotment” to the United States, contradicting White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, who argued Pfizer did not do so.
He added that Pfizer approached “the United States government multiple times and as recently as after the interim data came out, when we knew this vaccine looked to be effective”, but that the administration declined to order more doses.
But according to reports on Tuesday, the Trump administration declined to order an additional 100 million doses of the Pfizer vaccine several months ago, even when data looked promising.
Instead, the European Union and other counties secured millions more doses from Pfizer, The New York Times reported, leaving the pharmaceutical firm potentially unable to serve the US with more vaccines until late next year.
"They shouldn't have closed the door," an anonymous official told CNN on the matter, adding that "they could have left the door open" to purchasing more doses from Pfizer. “It's going to look bad.”
The vaccine will instead be rolled out in an initial run of 100 million doses that were already on order, and alongside doses ordered from Moderna, in the next weeks and months – although both supplies will be limited.
Addressing reports on Tuesday, Ms McEnany claimed it was “not true” that the pharmaceutical firm offered the Trump administration more doses, but that “the next batch was in short order”.
She argued that the United States was only able to deliver 40 million doses before the end of the year because the country “[has] a businessman as president”.
“It’s the Trump vaccine,” she said – although the United Kingdom was the first country to deliver doses on Tuesday, and the White House did not fund the development of the Pfizer vaccine, as The Washington Post reported.
A spokeswoman for the US Department of Health and Human Services told the Times that the Trump administration was “confident” Pfizer would provide 100 million doses as agreed, and “beyond that, we have five other vaccine candidates, including 100 million doses on the way from Moderna”.
Mr Trump, meanwhile, was due to sign an executive order blocking vaccines produced in partnership with the White House from being distributed abroad before Americans receive doses, according to reports.
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