Former Trump White House adviser Stephen Miller on Friday claimed pharmaceutical companies would have already revised formulations of Covid-19 vaccines to prevent the new Omicron variant if Donald Trump had remained president.
Speaking on a special edition of Fox News’ Hannity, Mr Miller told viewers that the US would “already have modified vaccines to deal with the new variants” if Mr Trump was still in office.
“President Trump brought us vaccines in record time … and he’d have updates, too,” he added.
Mr Miller did not say how the former president would have enabled vaccine manufacturers to develop vaccines for new variants before they are discovered and have their genetic sequences mapped by virologists.
Scientists were able to sequence the genetic code of SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes Covid-19 — in January 2020, just 10 days after the first cases emerged in China’s Wuhan Province.
But it wasn’t until 14 December 2020, nearly a year later, that the first Covid-19 vaccination in the US outside of a clinical trial was administered to Sandra Lindsey, a New York City-based intensive care unit nurse.
Development of an updated vaccine tailored for new variants such as the Omicron variant, which recently emerged in South Africa, would not take nearly as long, but it’s unclear how the identity of the president would factor into the time needed to develop, manufacture, and test any new vaccine candidates.
At a June press conference with President Joe Biden, Pfizer CEO Albert Bourla said his company could have a revised Covid-19 vaccine ready for use within 100 days of identification of a new “escape variant” that can evade the current vaccines.
Vaccines such as Pfizer’s and Moderna’s use Messenger RNA technology which can be quickly adapted to produce vaccines for new variants.
Last month, Moderna senior vice president and head of infectious disease research Jacquleline Miller told Nature that her company was submitting test cases using vaccines developed to block the Beta and Delta variants of SARS-CoV-2 to the Food and Drug Administration to “establish a process” by which new variant-specific vaccines could hit the streets faster.
“If there’s another strain that evolves those mutations in the future, we can capitalise on what we’ve already learned from studying the Beta variant,” she said.