Trump to meet next week with industry, government officials on COVID vaccine

By Jeff Mason

© Reuters/DADO RUVIC
FILE PHOTO: A woman holds a medical syringe and a small bottle labeled “Coronavirus COVID-19 Vaccine

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Donald Trump will gather leaders from industry and government next week for a summit on the coronavirus vaccine, the White House said on Tuesday, as the outgoing president seeks to emphasize his role in the speedy development of a vaccine.

“President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed continues rapidly advancing toward a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine five times faster than any other vaccine in history,” White House spokesman Brian Morgenstern said in a statement.

“The President looks forward to convening leaders from the federal government, state governments, private sector, military, and scientific community for a comprehensive discussion with the American people as the Administration prepares to deliver this historic, life-saving vaccine to every zip code in the United States within 24 hours of an FDA approval,” he said.

The gathering comes as Trump pressures his Food and Drug Administration to accelerate approval of a vaccine.

The FDA declined to comment.

The Republican president, who has not conceded that he lost the Nov. 3 election to Democrat Joe Biden, said last week he did not want the former vice president to get credit for vaccine development.

“Don’t let Joe Biden take credit for the vaccines,” Trump told reporters at the White House on Thursday, the Thanksgiving holiday. “Don’t let him take credit for the vaccines because the vaccines were me, and I pushed people harder than they’ve ever been pushed before.”

Biden, the president-elect, sharply criticized Trump’s handling of the pandemic during the presidential campaign and has focused his transition to the White House largely on forming a team to help counter the pandemic and its economic fallout.

United Parcel Service confirmed it would attend Trump’s meeting, which was first reported by STAT News to be held on Dec. 8.

“UPS is proud to be a key player in the global public-private partnerships preparing to distribute vaccines to the world,” a spokeswoman said.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; additional reporting by Manojna Madditpatla in Bengaluru; editing by Grant McCool)

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