Pfizer and Moderna reportedly turn down White House invitation to a ‘vaccine summit’

The makers of the two most advanced coronavirus vaccines have reportedly turned down a White House invitation to a ‘vaccine summit’ to be held on Tuesday.

Pfizer and Moderna will not be at the event, the health and science website Stat News reported, with Albert Bourla, CEO of Pfizer, and Stéphane Bancel, CEO of Moderna, both declining to attend.

Their absence will certainly be noted, and comes after Mr Trump accused both men of working to prevent his re-election.

The site reported that the event appeared to be an effort by the Trump administration to claim credit for the rapid development of a Covid-19 vaccine, and to pressure the FDA to move quickly on an authorisation.

The FDA will meet on Thursday to decide whether to approve the vaccine.

While Moderna accepted federal money to assist their research and development of a vaccine, Pfizer did not.

Mr Bourla, CEO of the New York-based pharmaceutical giant, said that he was determined that his staff and scientists have absolute political independence, and he felt that accepting money from a government would compromise that.  

In October he said, in an internal memo obtained by Politico, that he found the political debates around coronavirus disturbing.

“Once more, I was disappointed that the prevention for a deadly disease was discussed in political terms rather than scientific facts,” he wrote.

The results of his team’s work on a vaccination were announced days after the election, leading to Donald Trump Jr and Fox News host Laura Ingraham to speculate that the timing was deliberate, to avoid giving the president an electoral boost.

Mr Bourla insisted that his scientists were not guided by political concerns.

“For us, the Election Day was always an artificial date,” he said.  

“We were not working with the election as a timeline. We were working — I released a letter, if you remember, to our employees some time ago, saying that the only pressure we feel it is the pressure of the billions of people that are hoping on our vaccine.  

“And we are going to follow the speed of science so science spoke, and I was predicting that this will happen at the end of October, it happened a week later.  

“I think the most important thing right now for everyone, it is to feel the joy that it happened and it happened so well. 90 per cent.”

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