'We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone,' Pfizer made clear.
Vice President Mike Pence took to social media Monday morning to claim credit for successes in testing of a coronavirus vaccine under development by drug manufacturer Pfizer — but Pfizer said the Trump administration had nothing to do with it.
"HUGE NEWS: Thanks to the public-private partnership forged by president @realDonaldTrump, @pfizer announced its Coronavirus Vaccine trial is EFFECTIVE, preventing infection in 90% of its volunteers," Pence tweeted.
Donald Trump, too, bragged on Twitter Monday morning about the vaccine's efficacy.
"STOCK MARKET UP BIG, VACCINE COMING SOON. REPORT 90% EFFECTIVE. SUCH GREAT NEWS!" he wrote on Twitter.
Trump then shared a Reuters tweet noting the 90% effectiveness of the vaccine.
Other Republican lawmakers jumped the bandwagon, praising Trump for his supposed involvement in the vaccine's development.
"Exciting news, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine is 90% effective!" tweeted West Virginia Rep. David McKinley on Monday. "When it comes down to it, the facts show the COVID-19 vaccine developed through #OperationWarpSpeed will be safe and effective."
Operation Warp Speed is the name of the federal program implemented by Trump and aimed at developing a vaccine against the coronavirus.
Rep. Rick Crawford of Arkansas tweeted: "The MSM enabled President Trump's opponents to continually claim he was doing nothing about COVID. They also relentlessly scoffed at his insistence that a vaccine was imminent. Today, Pfizer announced a trial with 90% effectiveness. Operation Warp Speed worked. #WrongAgain."
Rep. Dan Crenshaw of Texas offered up praise on Twitter while taking a swipe at the president-elect: "Great work by the administration pushing the historic and unprecedented vaccine development under Operation Warp Speed, even as cynical Democrats attempted to undermine its credibility. Joe Biden’s only plan for the virus is Trump’s plan. Always has been."
There's only one problem: Pfizer told the New York Times that the Trump administration was not involved in any way in the development of the vaccine.
Pfizer had turned down research and development funding under Operation Warp Speed.
The Trump administration had offered Pfizer nearly $2 billion to rush the vaccine to market, but the company only accepted funding for production and distribution.
"We were never part of the Warp Speed," Kathrin Jansen, a Pfizer senior vice president and head of vaccine research and development, told the Times. "We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone."
Many experts viewed Operation Warp Speed as a political stunt to help Trump get reelected.
In September, Ashish Jha, the dean of Brown University's School of Public Health, told the Associated Press that it was "almost a certainty" that the administration's promises of a vaccine before November were related to Trump's tenuous election bid, and that a November rollout was "awfully early."
"You want to have pretty good safety data on vaccines," Jha told the AP. "So I am deeply worried that that's not what is going to happen."
In late September, Trump petulantly accused the FDA of blocking his efforts at a vaccine rollout in order to prevent his reelection.
"We will have a vaccine so soon you won't even believe it, although they're trying to do a little bit of a political hit," Trump falsely claimed to attendees at a rally in Jacksonville, Florida. "You notice that? 'Let's delay the vaccine, just a little bit.'"
Trump's frantic rush for a vaccine before Election Day resulted in dramatic dips in Americans' willingness to get the vaccine, according to various polls.
Data showed roughly three-quarters of American adults were willing to get a hypothetical vaccine in April, but only half that many were willing by September.
And Trump's sweeping, empty promises of a vaccine, which began in the summer even as he otherwise ignored the pandemic, continued to center around his bid for reelection.
The new vaccine could be a game changer.
"This vaccine could have a serious impact on bending the curve of this outbreak," Dr. Saad B. Omer, director of Yale Institute for Global Health, told the New York Times.
And Dr. Paul Offit, who serves on the FDA's vaccine advisory panel and teaches at the University of Pennsylvania, told the Times that the success of the Pfizer vaccine meant other successful coronavirus vaccines could be just around the corner as well.
"If there's any silver lining in the fact that our country is currently on fire with this virus, it's that these trials can reach a conclusion much quicker than otherwise," Offit noted.
According to the Times, after the collection of two months' worth of safety data, Pfizer is attempting to get FDA authorization for the vaccine. Executives told the outlet that by the end of December, they hope to have enough doses to vaccinate 15 million to 20 million Americans.
The company made it clear, though, that it did not accept federal funds offered by the Trump administration for either the research or the development phase of the vaccine and was in no way associated with Operation Warp Speed.
Mike Pence's claims that the Trump administration had any hand in the development of the vaccine are false.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.