Trump to Host Vaccine Summit Next Week With State Leaders

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President Donald Trump plans to host a coronavirus vaccine summit next week as his administration weighs emergency authorization for immunizations that could curb the deadly pandemic.

White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said in a statement that leaders from state governments, the military and scientific community will attend the Dec. 8 gathering, as the administration “prepares to deliver this historic, life-saving vaccine to every zip code in the United States within 24 hours of an FDA approval.”

Trump has claimed personal credit for accelerating the development of coronavirus vaccines through the government’s “Operation Warp Speed” program. “I came up with vaccines that people didn’t think we’d have for five years,” he said in an interview Sunday on Fox News.

Stat News, which reported the summit earlier Tuesday, said that executives at companies invited to participate are “irritated” at White House pressure to attend what they regard as a political event.

Vice President Mike Pence told state leaders on Monday that distribution of a vaccine could begin as early as the third week in December, in a signal that regulators could be nearing approval of emergency authorization.

Earlier Tuesday, White House chief of staff Mark Meadows summoned Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn to the White House to discuss why the agency hadn’t moved faster to grant preliminary approval for Pfizer Inc.’s vaccine, according to a White House official.

Moderna Inc. has also requested the FDA give emergency authorization to its vaccine, with both companies reporting better than 90% efficacy in preliminary results of clinical trials.

The FDA defended its process in a statement Monday, saying the agency needed to review thousands of pages of technical information.

“Completion of these reviews involves such things as ensuring that the manufacturing process and the controls on manufacturing are appropriate, checking statistical analyses performed to ensure that they were done properly, and doing additional analyses, as necessary, to look at the effect of the vaccine on subsets of individuals who might be at greater risk of adverse effects,” the FDA said.

An FDA advisory panel is scheduled to meet on Dec. 10 -- two days after the White House summit -- to discuss the vaccines. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar told governors that distribution could begin within 24 hours of regulatory approval, according to a readout of the call provided by the office of Washington Governor Jay Inslee.

The White House’s effort comes amid a spike in cases throughout the northern hemisphere as temperatures have cooled, making outdoor activities more difficult. There have been more than 63.4 million cases worldwide with over 1.47 million deaths, and hospitalizations in New York City jumped the most Tuesday since April.

Trump, Pence and several governors plan to take part in the Dec. 8 summit, according to Stat News.

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