Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a member of Pfizer‘s board, told CNBC on Tuesday the company’s offers to provide the U.S. additional doses of its coronavirus vaccine in 2021 was declined by the Trump administration.
The government in July agreed to a deal with Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech for 100 million doses of their Covid-19 vaccine if it proved safe and effective. The Food and Drug Administration is set to meet Thursday to review the companies’ emergency use application. Gottlieb spoke before the agency Tuesday released the companies’ clinical trial data, which revealed no specific safety concerns.
If it is approved, Pfizer’s entire supply of vaccine produced in its Michigan manufacturing facility in December and the first quarter of 2021 will go to the U.S, Gottlieb said on “Squawk Box.” Under that July agreement, the government could acquire an another 500 million doses.
“Pfizer did offer up an additional allotment coming out of that plant, basically the second-quarter allotment, to the United States government multiple times and as recently as after the interim data came out and we knew this vaccine looked to be effective,” said Gottlieb, who previously led the FDA in the Trump administration from 2017 to 2019.
Gottlieb, whose comments confirm a report Monday by The New York Times, said he believes the U.S. government likely turned down Pfizer’s offer because it wanted to make sure it diversified the number of companies it agreed to purchase option agreements with.
For example, it has an agreement in place for 100 million doses of Moderna‘s Covid-19 vaccine. The Massachusetts-based biotech firm developed the only other vaccine currently awaiting FDA clearance. Johnson & Johnson also struck a deal with the Trump administration for 100 million doses of its coronavirus vaccine in August.
“I think they’re betting that more than one vaccine is going to get authorized and there will be more vaccines on the market,” Gottlieb said. “And that, perhaps, could be why they didn’t take up that additional 100 million option agreement, which wouldn’t really have required them necessarily to front money. It was just an agreement that they would purchase those vaccines. So Pfizer has gone ahead and entered into some agreements with other countries to sell them some of that vaccine in the second quarter of 2021.”
Disclosure: Scott Gottlieb is a CNBC contributor and is a member of the boards of Pfizer, genetic testing start-up Tempus and biotech company Illumina. Gottlieb also serves as co-chair of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings′ and Royal Caribbean‘s “Healthy Sail Panel.”