United States President Donald Trump speaks during a ceremony to present wrestler Dan Gable with the Presidential Medal of Freedom in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington, DC on December 7, 2020.
Saul Loeb | AFP | Getty Images
President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order on Tuesday to ensure that U.S. efforts to help other countries vaccinate their populations against Covid-19 are less of a priority than domestic vaccinations, a senior government official told NBC News.
The executive order will be in line with President America First’s foreign policy, the official said. The plans for the Executive Order have already been announced by Fox News. The official said the order will include a framework for sourcing vaccines overseas “once we have made sure we are meeting the needs of the American people”.
CNBC has not examined the proposed text of the Executive Ordinance, which could prove largely symbolic.
The official said the foreign aid delivery schedule will be supply and demand, but is expected to start in the second quarter. President-elect Joe Biden will take office on Jan. 20 and is likely to shape his own policy for the receipt and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, potentially limiting the impact of Trump’s command.
Also on Tuesday, a Covid-19 summit with vaccine manufacturers, drug distributors and government officials will take place in the White House, the medical news agency STAT reported.
Trump has largely ignored the growing coronavirus crisis over the past few weeks despite a surge in infections and a rising death toll exceeding 2,000 deaths a day, instead focusing on legal efforts to scrap the November presidential election results .
However, the signing will take place at a particularly critical stage in vaccine development.
Trump will sign the order just days before Thursday’s Food and Drug Administration meeting to review a promising vaccine from Pfizer and German drug maker BioNTech.
This vaccine can be approved for use by the end of this week. The FDA will meet on December 17th to discuss another Moderna candidate.
While some particularly at-risk Americans may be vaccinated soon after the vaccines are approved, officials warn that it will be months before anyone who wants a vaccine gets one.
Minister of Health and Human Services Alex Azar predicted on Sunday that vaccines are unlikely to be available to everyone applying for a vaccine by the second quarter.
The Trump administration signed a deal this summer to buy 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, if it works, enough to supply 50 million Americans.
On Monday afternoon, the New York Times reported that the government had rejected an offer from Pfizer for additional doses at the time.
The paper reported, citing unnamed individuals who are familiar with the matter, that the company may have limited vaccines supply due to its commitments to other countries and may not be able to supply additional vaccines to the US until June.
A spokesman for HHS, pressured by the Times whether the government missed the opportunity to buy more Pfizer’s vaccine, said: “We are confident that we will receive 100 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine, as agreed in our contract and beyond that, we have five other vaccine candidates. “
A Pfizer spokesman told the Times that “the company cannot comment on confidential discussions with the US government.”
The White House and HHS did not immediately provide details of the executive order. Pfizer and BioNTech have not returned any emails seeking comment.
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