Key officials from various branches of government will reportedly be given the new Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, which was granted emergency use authorization on Friday evening, this week as a matter of bolstering national security amidst the pandemic.
Bloomberg News, citing “people familiar with the effort,” reports that top U.S. officials from the three branches of government, including President Donald Trump, will be offered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine soon, possibly as early as Monday, when the first mass shipments are expected to arrive at their respective destinations around the U.S.
After the Bloomberg News report was published, Trump said that people at the White House would no longer receive the vaccine at this time unless it was “specifically necessary.” Trump, who has already recovered from COVID-19, also said that he would take the vaccine at the “appropriate time,” but was not currently scheduled to do so. (The CDC says it’s unsure about the long-term protection offered by recovering from COVID-19, and the long-term protection against COVID-19 offered by the vaccine regimen).
According to The New York Times, those who interact with the president frequently as part of Trump’s administration will also be offered the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, per “two sources familiar with the distribution plans.” It’s not clear whether this will still be the case following the president’s statement later on Sunday.
John Ullyot, a spokesperson for the national security council, declined to tell the Times whether whether key officials who had already recovered from COVID-19 would receive one. He confirmed to Bloomberg News that the inoculations would be offered to “senior officials” in government.
“The American people should have confidence that they are receiving the same safe and effective vaccine as senior officials of the United States government on the advice of public health professionals and national security leadership,” said Ullyot.
National security staff and unspecified public health officials made the recommendation to offer the vaccine to those in critical positions, reports Bloomberg News. The staff inoculations will reportedly be spaced apart over the course of 10 days so as to avoid the potential that key government officials would experience possible side effects all at once.
General Gus Perna, the Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed, said Saturday morning that the U.S. government expects Pfizer to ship out 2.9 million vaccines this week to 636 locations across the country.
Perna said 145 sites will receive vaccine shipments on Monday, another 425 sites will receive shipments on Tuesday, and the final 66 sites will receive their vaccines on Wednesday. Ancillary kits, which contain everything needed to provide COVID-19 inoculations, have already been received at delivery sites.
“Because of the sheer energy, the whole of America approach, I am absolutely 100% confident that we are going to distribute, safely, this precious commodity, this vaccine, needed to defeat the enemy: COVID,” said the Operation Warp Speed official on Saturday morning.
The number of COVID-19 vaccines that will be allocated toward people in critical government positions is not clear. However, Pfizer expects to have 25 million doses of vaccine — enough for 12.5 million Americans — before the end of the year.
Should the Moderna vaccine candidate, which uses a similar technology to Pfizer’s vaccine, be approved, the U.S. government expects that an additional 15 million doses will be available, meaning 40 million COVID-19 vaccines could be available before 2021. In this scenario, the United States could expect to have 200 million vaccines available by the end of March 2021.
Editor’s Note: This article has been expanded to include additional information, including a comment from President Donald Trump saying White House officials would no longer be receiving COVID-19 vaccines at this time unless it was “specifically necessary.”
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