The Trump administration deserves credit for the “breathtaking” speed at which two COVID-19 vaccines were developed, Dr. Anthony Fauci’s boss said.
Speaking to “Axios on HBO” in an interview released Monday evening, National Institutes of Health director Dr. Francis Collins made the remarks after being asked what the previous administration got right in their pandemic response.
“The Operation Warp Speed, for which I give a great deal of credit to [former Health and Human Services] Secretary [Alex] Azar, was an effort that many of us were not initially convinced was going to be necessary,” Collins told the program.
“It was thought about as a Manhattan Project,” he continued, referring to the US-led program during World War II that developed the first nuclear weapons.
“Those words were used sometimes to describe what needed to happen in order to get all parts of the government together in an unprecedented way to test up to six vaccines in rigorous trials, and to do this at-risk manufacturing so that if any of those trials happen to work, you would already have doses ready to go into arms,” Collins added, “That would not be the way things are traditionally done.”
Collins went on to mention Dr. Moncef Slaoui, who led Operation Warp Speed under Trump, calling his recruitment “an incredibly important step forward that the administration deserves credit for, because that did motivate a lot of actions, a lot of coordination.”
Collins marveled at the speed at which pharma giants such as Moderna and Pfizer developed vaccines with such high efficacy rates that were approved by the FDA by mid-December.
“It’s just breathtaking that that got done in 11 months from when we first knew about this virus. It is at least five years faster than it has ever been done before.”
Last week, President Biden began placing blame on his predecessor over vaccine supply, claiming without proof the previous administration had left them next to nothing.
“We got into office and found out the supply, there was no backlog. There was nothing in the refrigerator, figuratively and literally speaking, and there were 1 million doses a day that were available. We’ve upped that, in the first weeks that we were in office, to significantly more than that.”
Speaking to Newsmax the next day, Trump defended his administration’s handling of the crisis, specifically mentioning Biden’s claims on vaccines.
“Well, I saw that he said there was no vaccine when he came into office, and yet he got a shot before he came into office,” Trump told the network. “It was already in early November when we announced it, but we actually had it substantially before that.”
“We were giving millions of shots and millions of doses. So he’s either not telling a truth, or he’s mentally gone, one or the other,” the former president continued.