Donald Trump on Tuesday signed a decree supposed to give priority to deliveries of vaccines against the coronavirus to the United States before export. The document will ensure “that the US government prioritizes the vaccination of US citizens.”
Pfizer / BioNTech, whose vaccine could be authorized in the coming days, has so far only a contract for 100 million doses with the United States. Moderna, whose vaccine could be authorized at the end of next week, has also promised 100 million doses.
Laws to favor the United States
The United States has a population of over 330 million, and the government says it can meet its goal of providing everyone with a vaccine by April. Each contract includes options for additional doses, but the time to activate these clauses could delay delivery by several months.
Pfizer / BioNTech and Moderna have factories in the United States. US laws like the Defense Production Act would in theory allow the government to pre-empt production that comes out of it. The text of the executive order signed by Trump has not been made public. “If necessary, we will invoke the Defense Production Act,” said the president.
“We don’t think it will be necessary,” he added. Two other vaccines very advanced in clinical trials could indeed be authorized in early 2021 and guarantee the American supply: the two-dose vaccine of AstraZeneca / Oxford (of which Washington has ordered 500 million doses), and the vaccine of American Johnson & Johnson (100 million doses).