By Dan McCaleb | The Center Square
President Donald Trump on Wednesday touted the federal government’s agreement with Pfizer to mass produce and distribute a potential vaccine for COVID-19 before the end of the year.
Under the $1.95 billion agreement, Americans would receive the vaccine, which has seen successes in initial trials, for free if it is approved for safe use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“We think we have a winner there,” Trump said, noting that the production would be in “record-breaking time.”
The initial deal would be for 100 million doses of the experimental vaccine, but Trump noted at his coronavirus news briefing Wednesday that an additional 500 million doses could be purchased if necessary.
U.S.-based Pfizer is working on the vaccine with German-based BioNTech.
Noting that the novel coronavirus most drastically affects senior citizens, Trump also said that the federal government is releasing $500 million in funding to nursing homes to hire additional staff, purchase personal protective equipment and improve technology so residents can connect with their families.
About half of fatalities have occurred in less than 1 percent of the population, Trump said about seniors in nursing home facilities, and the federal government will support “increased testing at nursing homes in states. All personnel will be tested at the highest level.”
In response to the new funding for assisted living facilities, Mark Parkinson, president and CEO of the American Health Care Association and National Center for Assisted Living, said the industry was appreciative of the support.
“We appreciate the Administration sending this much-needed funding to our nursing homes to help ensure our facilities have the personal protective equipment (PPE), access to testing and staffing needed to keep our residents and caregivers safe. This funding is an important step forward for nursing homes in our fight against this deadly virus,” he said in a statement. “Overall nursing homes are making progress as data shows that new cases are down; however, the growing number of new COVID cases in states across the country is very concerning, which is why continued support, like U.S. Department of Health and Human Services is providing today, is vital to helping long-term care facilities keep this virus out of our buildings.”
Trump again urged Americans to take every precaution about spreading the respiratory disease, including washing their hands regularly and wearing masks when they can’t socially distance.
“We will get to the other end of that tunnel very quickly, we hope,” he said.