Trump Aims to Boost Vaccine Confidence at White House Summit

President Donald Trump plans to hold a “vaccine summit” at the White House on Tuesday that’s intended to increase confidence in the new vaccines among the American public, according to a senior administration official.

The president will open the three-hour, indoor summit with remarks, followed by discussions of how the vaccines were developed and how they’ll be regulated, distributed and administered. He plans to sign an order for the Department of Health and Human Services to give priority to people in the U.S. before helping other countries.

The president has claimed personal credit for the rapid development of coronavirus vaccines, which were assisted by the Trump administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” program. Pfizer Inc. and Moderna Inc. have each asked for Food and Drug Administration approval for their shots, both of which are better than 90% effective, according to preliminary data from clinical trials.

But the drugmakers won’t be part of the summit to avoid the appearance of a conflict since Peter Marks, the director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research responsible for evaluating vaccine authorization, will be in attendance, according to a senior administration official.

Federal officials have said states will receive initial deliveries of the two vaccines within 24 hours of regulatory approval. Pfizer’s vaccine may be approved as soon as next week, Vice President Mike Pence has said.

Each shot will be tracked by a computer system at HHS built by Palantir Technologies Inc. and Oracle Corp., another senior administration official said. The official said no health provider can administer a vaccine without being enrolled in the system, which will provide a daily record of how many people in the country have been vaccinated.

The two companies are close to the White House. Palantir Chairman Peter Thiel and Oracle Chief Executive Officer Safra Catz have been Trump supporters.

The administration aims to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of the year, the official said. No federal employee -- other than health-care workers for Native Americans, veterans and the military -- is likely to play a role in distributing the vaccine to the general public, the second official said.

Once the U.S.’s needs are met, government agencies including the Export-Import Bank and the International Development Finance Corp. will address distributing vaccines to other countries in need.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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