Trump allies have been quick to falsely give credit to Operation Warp Speed — the Trump administration’s attempt to deliver a vaccine as fast as possible — for its role in supporting Pfizer to develop and distribute its Covid-19 vaccine, despite the company receiving no support whatsoever from the U.S. government beyond an agreement to buy an initial 100 million doses. 

Key Facts

Vice President Mike Pence, who has been conspicuously silent since the presidential election, said the vaccine development was “HUGE NEWS: Thanks to the public-private partnership forged by President @realDonaldTrump, @pfizer announced its Coronavirus Vaccine trial is EFFECTIVE, preventing infection in 90% of its volunteers.”

Ivanka Trump praised the “tireless work of Operation Warp Speed and the partnership it struck with Pfizer, HHS & the Military in July to support distribution + logistics, Pfizer can massively scale production and nationwide delivery of +100 M doses of the vaccine!”

President Trump was quick to celebrate the vaccine’s success on Twitter: “STOCK MARKET UP BIG, VACCINE COMING SOON. REPORT 90% EFFECTIVE. SUCH GREAT NEWS!”

Nikki Haley, who was Trump’s former ambassador to the UN,  said the vaccine is “great news for the American people,” adding: “Many thanks to @realDonaldTrump and Operation Warp Speed. This will be one of the most important action items done by the administration in response to this pandemic.” 

Crucial Quote

A Pfizer spokesperson told Forbes that while it is proud to be one of various manufacturers participating in Operation Warp Speed and had reached an advanced purchase agreement with the U.S. government “the company did not accept BARDA funding for the research and development process. All the investment for R&D was made by Pfizer at risk.”

Chief Critic

Dr. Kathrin Jansen, Pfizer’s head of vaccine research and development, told the New York Times that their team “were never part of the Warp Speed” and had “never taken any money from the U.S. government, or from anyone.”

Key Background

While it is true that Pfizer is part of Operation Warp Speed, it is only as a potential supplier of a successful Covid-19 vaccine. While the government can truly be said to have incentivized the development of a vaccine, by providing a guaranteed market, Pfizer has taken pains to very publicly reject government funding for its Covid-19 vaccine project, making government contributions at this stage effectively nil. Pfizer has been shouldering the risks of development itself. If successful, the government has agreed to buy 100 million doses through Operation Warp Speed, enough to treat 50 million people, as well as the option of buying 500 million more. 

News Peg

Pfizer and BioNTech released early results for their Covid-19 vaccine Monday, showing it to be 90% effective at preventing the disease. The figure is high, much higher than the 50% the Food and Drug Administration had said it was willing to accept, and cemented the vaccine’s frontrunner status in the global race to develop a safe and effective vaccine. 

What To Watch For

The company hopes, and is still on track, to file for emergency FDA approval in mid-November, which could make this the first Covid-19 vaccine approved outside of Russia and China. Even if approved, there are still plenty of logistical hurdles that could delay the vaccine’s rollout, though the company has been ramping up production for months in anticipation of regulatory approval. 


The World Health Organization is investigating mink farming around the world over concerns that the animals might pass dangerous new Covid-19 strains on to humans, some of which could threaten the effectiveness of vaccines currently in development. Denmark ordered the cull of its entire mink herd for this reason, with at least 214 people infected with mink-related Covid-19 since June. 

Further Reading

Pfizer says early data signals COVID-19 vaccine is effective (AP)

Pfizer Will Seek Emergency Approval For Covid-19 Vaccine In November, After Election (Forbes)

More Than 200 People Catch Mink-Related Covid-19 In Denmark Since June, Prompting World Health Organization To Investigate (Forbes)

Pfizer Reportedly Manufactures ‘Several Hundred Thousand’ Covid-19 Vaccines Anticipating November Regulatory Approval (Forbes)

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