President Donald Trump Image Credit: AFP

Washington: President Donald Trump announced a decree on Tuesday aimed at granting Americans priority access to vaccines, but faced questions over whether the White House missed an opportunity to shore up sufficient doses in the months ahead.

While Trump sought to trumpet his administration’s policies related to vaccines at his event, his upbeat message was contrasted by a more cautious presentation held simultaneously by President-elect Joe Biden.

Biden warned that efforts to get the vaccine out to Americans would “slow and stall” if Congress does not urgently come up with funding as he also introduced members of his health team.

It was unclear whether Trump’s executive order, which he said would “ensure that American citizens have first priority to receive American vaccines,” would hold legal weight, since drugmakers have already signed deals with other countries. But it signals the White House is concerned about whether it has sufficient doses to meet its immunisation targets, which are 100 million people by the end of February and the whole country by June.

The event follow a raft of positive news related to vaccines, including US regulators calling the Pfizer-BioNTech immunisation — which Britain began rolling out on Tuesday — safe and effective in a briefing document. The document further raised expectations that Pfizer will soon be granted emergency approval in the United States, with a meeting on the topic set for Thursday. A meeting on emergency approval for US firm Moderna’s vaccine candidate is scheduled for December 17.