White House claims Pfizer 'negotiating in public' on coronavirus vaccine allocation

HHS to use 'every lever necessary' if US is 'treated unfairly,' official says

The White House on Tuesday claimed that Pfizer is “negotiating in public” on the allocation of the forthcoming coronavirus vaccine and trying to embarrass the U.S. government in an effort to gain market share over its vaccine competitors.

White House officials told FOX Business the initial contract signed with Pfizer was for 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine, with an option to purchase another 500 million doses at $19.59 per dose.

That contract, according to officials, stipulated the timeline for the option of 500 million doses, which would be negotiated at a later date.

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White House officials told FOX Business that in October, after initial data that the Pfizer vaccine had shown efficacy, the U.S. government went back to Pfizer to lock in 100 million doses from its option of 500 million.

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At that point, however, officials said Pfizer would not commit to a timeline for delivery of the additional doses. Officials said it wasn’t until last weekend that Pfizer gave the government a timeline, which they said was for some time in the second quarter of 2021.

White House officials claimed Pfizer is “negotiating in public” and trying to embarrass the government in an effort to gain market share over vaccine competitors.

"We're in the middle of an important and productive negotiation," Health and Human Services official Paul Mango told Fox News. "We're not going to negotiate in public and we wish others wouldn’t."

"We are confident of procuring another 100 million doses on the timeline we are aiming for," Mango continued, referring to the second quarter of 2021. "If we feel at any point in time that we are being treated unfairly by any vaccine manufacturer in whom we have invested, the President and HHS Secretary will not hesitate to use every lever necessary to make sure the American people are treated equitably."

The comments come after reports Monday that the Trump administration opted not to lock in a chance to buy millions of additional doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, which would delay the delivery of a second batch of doses until Pfizer fulfilled other international contracts.

The White House, on Monday, said those reports were not true.

The Pfizer vaccine is one of two on track for emergency FDA authorization this month, the other coming from drugmaker Moderna.

The Trump administration insisted late Monday that between those two vaccines and others in the pipeline, the U.S. will be able to accommodate any American who wants to be vaccinated by the end of the second quarter of 2021.

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Meanwhile, President Trump is expected to sign an executive order Tuesday that will ensure all Americans have access to the coronavirus vaccine before the U.S. government begins aiding nations around the world.

Senior administration officials told Fox News on Monday that the president will reemphasize to the American people that the “priority has been an America First approach" during a vaccine summit at the White House Tuesday.

The news of the executive order comes just days ahead of the Food and Drug Administration's Thursday meeting regarding Pfizer and BioNTech’s application for emergency authorization of their coronavirus vaccine, three weeks after the companies filed for it. The FDA also plans to meet on Dec. 17 to discuss Moderna’s vaccine.

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A source close to the White House Coronavirus Task Force told Fox News last week the Pfizer-BioNTech authorization could come as early as Friday. FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn last week said they are “very hopeful” of approval and that they are “moving very quickly.”

“The priority is to make sure we distribute these vaccines to Americans before we start shipping them around the world to get international access,” an official told Fox News, predicting that international assistance could come “late spring, early summer” and after they “achieve vaccinating those who have a desire to be vaccinated.”

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The official said the executive order is “clear and is directing that we prioritize access to the American people before working with partners and allies to provide access to the vaccine.”

Fox News' John Roberts and The Associated Press contributed to this report.