Pfizer's head of vaccine development notes 'we have never taken any money from the U.S. government'

·2 min read

Pfizer distanced itself from the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed on Monday after announcing some great news about its vaccine candidate.

Pfizer on Monday revealed that a first interim analysis suggested its COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective, and Vice President Mike Pence said this was "thanks to the public-private partnership forged" by President Trump. But The New York Times reports that Dr. Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer's head of vaccine research and development, "sought to distance the company from Operation Warp Speed," the Trump administration's effort to speed up development of a coronavirus vaccine, and from politics in general.

"We were never part of the Warp Speed," Jansen told the Times. "We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone."

Pfizer did announce in July a $1.95 billion agreement with the U.S. government for 100 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate. But Bloomberg notes that "among the frontrunners, [Pfizer's] is the only vaccine project that did not take funding from the White House-led Operation Warp Speed program to bolster research, development or manufacturing." Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla previously touted this fact.

"I wanted to liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy," Bourla said in September. "When you get money from someone, that always comes with strings. They want to see how we are growing to progress, what types of moves you are going to do. They want reports. I didn't want to have any of that."

Jansen on Monday also told the Times this timing was not politically influenced, saying, "We have always said that science is driving how we conduct ourselves — no politics."

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