After pharmaceutical giant Pfizer announced today that initial studies have determined that its COVID-19 vaccine is effective at preventing the disease in 90% of its test subjects, the Trump administration fell over itself to rush to claim responsibility.
The nominal head of the administration’s coronavirus task force, Vice President Mike Pence, rushed to post a self-congratulatory boast on Twitter claiming responsibility for the success of the company in its research efforts and attributing the development of the vaccine to Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s public-private partnership initiative launched to turbo-charge the response to the pandemic.
— Mike Pence (@Mike_Pence) November 9, 2020
Pence wasn’t the only Trump administration mouthpiece attempting to transfer the glory of the scientific accomplishment on behalf of Donald Trump.
Former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley also posted a tweet thanking the administration for its part in Pfizer’s vaccine development work.
The news about the @pfizer vaccine being 90% effective is great news for the American people! Many thanks to @realDonaldTrump and Operation Warp Speed. This will be one of the most important action items done by the administration in response to this pandemic. ❤️🇺🇸#USStrong
— Nikki Haley (@NikkiHaley) November 9, 2020
The rush to bask in the accolades, unfortunately, ignores one simple and glaring fact — Pfizer has never accepted a penny of federal money for their research and development of this new vaccine and was not a part of the program that both Pence and Haley cite.
“We were never part of the Warp Speed,” said Kathrin Jansen, a senior vice president and the head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer. “We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone.”
Pfizer’s chief executive, Dr. Albert Bourla, explained in an interview with CBS‘s Face The Nation earlier this year why he specifically avoided participating in the Trump administration’s signature COVID-19 vaccine development program.
ICYMI: Why is @Pfizer financing #Covid19 #vaccine development on its own – instead of accepting government funding? $PFE CEO Albert Bourla says “I wanted to liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy. When you get money from someone…that always comes with strings.” pic.twitter.com/t2IQPP9Wn4
— Face The Nation (@FaceTheNation) September 13, 2020
Of course, it’s easy for a major pharmaceutical company to risk its own money in formulating and testing a vaccine when they have a promise that the federal government will purchase as many as 100 million doses at a cost of nearly $2 billion and ensure a tidy profit for your efforts.
Pfizer’s announcement today concerns just the preliminary results for human studies that will continue to further explore the safety and efficacy of their vaccine for several months longer before any mass production and distribution can begin.
Social media responded to the Trump acolytes’ attempt at taking credit for the progress of this particular vaccine with harsh rebukes.
“We were never part of the Warp Speed,” she said. “We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone.”
She said she learned of the results from the outside panel of experts shortly after 1 p.m. on Sunday."https://t.co/nTQx7BgBpy
— Amy Siskind (@Amy_Siskind) November 9, 2020
— Exploding Trumpillow Singh MD (@LabyrinthWeaver) November 9, 2020
Pfizer rejected any help from Trump.
Nice try, loser.
— The Hoarse Whisperer (@TheRealHoarse) November 9, 2020
Nikki Haley has shown her true colors. She can never be trusted.
— Trump is a Sociopath (@sharcat12) November 9, 2020
“The New England Patriots won the Super Bowl, Congratulations to Jerry Jones & the Dallas Cowboys for making the NFL great again!” – this is how absurd your praise sounds right now. Pfizer didn’t take a dime of your dear leader’s socialized vaccine program money. But nice try.
— USED TO BE G.O.P. (@Used_To_Be_GOP) November 9, 2020
Luckily, the Trump administration’s efforts to claim stolen valor in this instance can no longer help them win any additional votes with everyone except Donald Trump and his most terrified sycophants already having accepted the reality of a Biden victory in the presidential election.
Hopefully, the new regime will fulfill its promise to manage the federal response to the COVID-19 pandemic and get the Pfizer vaccine and any other effective remedy in the pipeline to the American people as quickly, safely, and efficiently as possible, no thanks to the previous people in charge.
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Vinnie Longobardo is a 35-year veteran of the TV, mobile & internet industries, specializing in start-ups and the international media business. His passions are politics, music and art.