Infectious-disease expert Anthony Fauci and other top Trump administration health officials are set to receive the coronavirus vaccine on Tuesday.
Fauci, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins and frontline health workers are scheduled to receive doses of Moderna’s vaccine at an event at NIH on Tuesday morning, Azar said Monday afternoon on Twitter.
The announcement came after POLITICO first revealed the plans, based on information from three people familiar with ongoing discussions.
NIH as of Friday had yet to receive a single shipment of the vaccine, despite playing an instrumental role in developing the Moderna vaccine, which the Food and Drug Administration authorized for emergency use on Friday night. Other government agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention received a federal allocation of Pfizer’s vaccine last week, while NIH has spent days negotiating with Maryland officials to receive a share of its allocation.
As a result, Fauci and other NIH scientists spent last week waiting for updates on when they’d get the vaccine, even as politicians like Vice President Mike Pence and Sen. Lindsey Graham got their shots in public.
NIH and HHS did not immediately respond to requests for comment. But Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan said in a press release Monday that the state would provide vaccine to “front-line clinical healthcare workers” at NIH. In addition to operating more than two dozen research institutes, the agency has a hospital devoted to clinical research.
“With our earliest vaccinations focused on high-risk populations, we are providing a limited number of doses to NIH in order to vaccinate these Maryland-based front line healthcare workers,” Hogan said. “I want to thank Dr. Collins, Dr. Fauci, and their teams for all they have done throughout this crisis to save lives.”
NIH researchers worked with drugmaker Moderna to develop and test its Covid-19 vaccine, which became the first out of dozens of hopefuls to begin human trials this spring. Fauci and others at NIH also were involved in the Operation Warp Speed initiative to speed vaccine development this year.
A growing number of political officials have received Covid-19 vaccines under continuity-of-government protocols, including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who got their shots on Friday.
But Fauci — the government’s top infectious disease researcher, who turns 80 years old on Thursday — has been waiting for his turn. Fauci said in a TV appearance on Friday morning that he was “ready to go” and eager to get the vaccine as soon as possible.