Coronavirus: Ivanka Trump incorrectly gives credit to US government for Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine

Ivanka Trump.
Ivanka Trump. Photo credit: Getty Images

Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka has been called out for incorrectly giving credit to the White House for an effective COVID-19 vaccine.

Pfizer Inc said on Monday its experimental COVID-19 vaccine is more than 90 percent effective, according to an early data trial that still needs regulatory approval.

Trump tweeted that the vaccine was "huge news", mistakenly praising the White House's Operation Warp Speed for its "partnership" with Pfizer. 

"Thanks to the tireless work of Operation Warp Speed and the partnership it struck with Pfizer, [Department of Health and Human Services] and the Military in July to support distribution and logistics, Pfizer can massively scale production and nationwide delivery of +100 M doses of the vaccine," she said.

But Pfizer hasn't received any support from the US government beyond a US$1.95 billion agreement to buy an initial 100 million doses. No money is paid out until the vaccine is approved.

Pfizer's head of vaccine research and development Dr Kathrin Jansen told the New York Times that the team was "never part of the Warp Speed".

"We have never taken any money from the US government, or from anyone," she said.

A spokesperson for Pfizer later clarified the company is part of Operation Warp Speed as a supplier of a potential coronavirus vaccine.

US epidemiologist Dr Eric Feigl-Ding responded to Trump's tweet and said while the news this experimental vaccine is 90 percent effective is exciting, it is still early days yet.

"It's only the results from only the first seven days. Pfizer vaccine needs a later booster shot too. So seven days isn't nearly enough data. We need longer trial data on COVID-19 efficacy and safety," he said.

"Further, Pfizer's vaccine also needs deep freezing and cold chain in transport/storage, which is logistically expensive/risky ... And cold chain is risky - any failure to keep the vials test tube frozen for just a few minutes would mean the vaccine won't be as effective.

"And I hate to break it to you Ivanka Trump, Pfizer was never really part of Operation Warp Speed."

Following the new update on the vaccine's efficacy, President Trump tweeted: "STOCK MARKET UP BIG, VACCINE COMING SOON. REPORT 90% EFFECTIVE. SUCH GREAT NEWS."

Vice President Pence said it was "huge news".

"Thanks to the public-private partnership forged by President Donald Trump, Pfizer announced its coronavirus vaccine trial is EFFECTIVE, preventing infection in 90% of its volunteers," he tweeted.

As well as being welcomed by Trump and Pence, President-elect Joe Biden said it was "excellent news".

"I congratulate the brilliant women and men who helped produce this breakthrough and to give us such cause for hope."

Pfizer said it expects to produce up to 1.3 billion doses of the vaccine in 2021.