By Musa Sunusi Ahmad
The US pharmaceutical company have announced they are a step closer to a Covid-19 vaccine, with a reported 90% efficacy rate. But is the new vaccine part of Operation Warp Speed?
The global pandemic has claimed 1.2 million lives around the world since its outbreak earlier this year.
On Monday, November 9th the pharmaceutical company Pfizer announced that it has developed a vaccine that is “more than 90 percent effective” at preventing Covid-19.
But one thing that people wonder is whether Pfizer is part of Operation Ward Speed.
Operation Warp Speed is a public-private partnership, initiated by Donald Trump’s administration, to produce and supply 300 million vaccines by January 2021.
For that, the program works with the “most promising countermeasure candidates and provides coordinated government support.”
Once a safe and effective vaccine has been developed, Operation Warp Speed’s strategy is to manufacture and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
However, a spokesperson for Pfizer told Newsweek that, while they are linked to the program, their research and development haven’t been funded by the US government.
Earlier this summer, Pfizer said that as part of their agreement, they will receive $1.95 billion if they supply the government with 100 million doses of the vaccine.
Sharon Castillo, a spokesperson for Pfizer, told the publication:
“Pfizer has not taken federal money for R&D [research and development].”
This statement comes on the heels of senior vice president and the head of vaccine research and development at Pfizer, Kathrin Jansen.
She told New York Times:
“We have never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone.”
Kathrin told the news outlet that Pfizer was “never part” of Operation Warp Speed.
In a previous interview for Face the Nation (via CBS News), Pfizer’s CEO Dr. Albert Bourla explained why they have not taken money from the government to fund their research.
“If it fails, it goes to our pocket. And at the end of the day, it’s only money. That will not break the company, although it is going to be painful because we are investing one billion and a half at least in COVID right now. But the reason why I did it was because I wanted to liberate our scientists from any bureaucracy.
“When you get money from someone that always comes with strings. They want to see how we are going to progress, what type of moves you are going to do. They want reports. I didn’t want to have any of that. I wanted them- basically I gave them an open checkbook so that they can worry only about scientific challenges, not anything else. And also, I wanted to keep Pfizer out of politics, by the way.”