Pharmaceutical companies that produce COVID-19 vaccines through the federal government’s “Warp Speed” program will automatically have liability protection, Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said on Monday.
Azar was asked about the progress of COVID-19 vaccine trials during an interview with Fox Business host Stuart Varney.
“We now have three vaccines in phase three clinical trials here in the United States, which is just unprecedented — the speed that we have been able to go given President Trump’s support of Operation Warp Speed,” Azar explained. “These are some of the largest clinical trials of vaccines in history.”
“We believe by the end of the year that it’s highly credible that we will have in the tens of millions of doses of FDA gold standard vaccine,” he continued. “We literally have made millions of doses of vaccine already thanks to Warp Speed.”
According to Azar, it will be up to states to decide whether vaccines are mandatory.
“Those would be local determinations,” he pointed out. “Right now my focus is let’s get FDA gold standard approved vaccine out there for the American people. Let’s get it out in quantities so we can especially get it to the most vulnerable and those most in need of it.”
Before ending the interview, Varney wondered if pharmaceutical companies would be shielded from lawsuits.
“Under the PREP Act, which is a provision in Congress, any treatment or vaccine for purposes of a national emergency pandemic like this actually comes with liability protection,” Azar explained. “Both the product as well as those who administer it or provide it.”