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Trump scores a long-awaited coronavirus win with vaccines on the way

November 17, 2020. Summarized by summa-bot.

President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Donald Trump finally has something legitimate to take credit for in his coronavirus response: A vaccine that appears poised to reach Americans in record time.

Health experts broadly agree that the Trump administration's national vaccine strategy was a success.

The Trump administration was willing to invest in new vaccine technologies, foot the bill for large, expensive clinical studies and simultaneously pay for manufacturing vaccine candidates before it was clear they would prove effective and safe.

As the first conversations with federal health officials got underway early this year, several pharmaceutical and biotechnology companies made clear that they would need massive investments from the federal government in order to develop and manufacture a coronavirus vaccine at scale.

"Some of the speed had to do with the fact that actually, the scientific work, which led up to the development of these vaccines has been going on for 15 years," said Dr. William Schaffner, a longtime adviser to the CDC and an infectious diseases expert at Vanderbilt University, who nonetheless agreed that the administration deserved credit for the speed at which the vaccines were developed.

Rick Bright -- a former Trump administration health official and current member of President-elect Joe Biden's coronavirus transition team -- said Obama administration investments in messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology helped propel coronavirus vaccine development this year.

They were willing to throw away hundreds of millions of doses if the vaccine were not safe or effective," Offit said of the Trump administration.

Privately and publicly, Trump called on vaccine makers to speed up their development timelines and even suggested he may try to intervene to speed up the Food and Drug Administration's vaccine authorization process.

The official familiar with Trump's calls to vaccine makers said the executives took the President's calls and attended meetings at the White House because they recognized it was important for them to appear a part of the effort.

"As I have long said, @Pfizer and the others would only announce a Vaccine after the Election, because they didn't have the courage to do it before," Trump tweeted.

Trump has kept up his griping, publicly scolding Pfizer for pointing out that the company didn't receive funds to develop its vaccine through Operation Warp Speed.

Health officials including Operation Warp Speed's Slaoui and the National Institute of Health's Dr. Anthony Fauci have both said that making contact with Biden's transition team could help limit any disruption to vaccine distribution plans.

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