“We are comfortable we will be getting vaccines to the people who need them as soon as possible,” Moncef Slaoui, chief scientific adviser of Operation Warp Speed, told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos when asked whether there is anything that the government or operation could do to help supply chain issues.
Slaoui said this was because “there are vaccine doses from Moderna, there are vaccine doses from Pfizer,” adding that they will work with Pfizer to try to increase their capacity.
Slaoui's comments come after The New York Times on Monday first reported that the Trump administration turned down an offer from Pfizer to buy more doses of its Covid-19 vaccine in the late summer.
Slaoui today said that summer was not the time to buy more vaccine doses – and that the right time to do that is when it becomes clear how well the vaccines perform.
“Let me remind everybody what our strategy is and has always been,” Slaoui told ABC this morning. “We selected six different vaccines to build the portfolio, to manage the risk that some may work and some may not work, but also to ensure that as more than one would work that we would accumulate vaccine doses from this portfolio of vaccines.”
Slaoui said that during the summer, “If somebody came to us and said, ‘Let’s buy more of this vaccine or that vaccine,’ no one reasonably would buy more from any one of those vaccines because we didn’t know which one would work and which one may be better than the other.”
He said that – given the strategy they have taken – once the vaccine’s performance was known would be the right time to order more doses, “which we may be doing.”
“And frankly, the constructive thing to do, if one of the suppliers has challenges producing enough vaccine doses, is to roll (up) our sleeves and help ensure that capacity can be increased and have more vaccine doses,” Slaoui said.
He also said that there were two more vaccines from AstraZeneca and Johnson & Johnson completing Phase 3 trials in January, “and most likely, I hope,” be available for use in February.
“We have tens of millions of doses of those vaccines, you know, participating, to the volume of vaccines we need to immunize the US population as we promised, all of it by the middle of the year 2021 – and that’s still on track,” Slaoui said.