“You don’t know?” asked anchor George Stephanopoulos.
“Yes,” Slaoui said.
“But you’re the chief science adviser for Operation Warp Speed,” Stephanopoulos pressed.
“Our work is, you know, rolling,” Slaoui replied. “We have plans. We feel that we can deliver the vaccines as needed. So I don’t know exactly what this order is about.”
Indeed, it remains unclear how Trump’s executive order would be enforced, as drugmakers are already making agreements to deliver supplies for other countries.
Slaoui was similarly dismissive when asked about the executive order in another interview Tuesday, telling Fox News that “what the White House is doing is what the White House is doing.”
Scott Gottlieb, Trump’s former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, speculated Tuesday on CNBC that there may be “authorities that the administration could invoke” to compel vaccine makers to break distribution agreements with other countries.
But Gottlieb also cautioned that “the countries that the vaccine was sold to are our close allies,” and said the U.S. will rely on those nations as part of the “global supply chain” of vaccine materials in the coming weeks and months.
The White House is hosting a vaccine summit Tuesday, at which Trump is expected to congratulate Operation Warp Speed officials and others involved in the U.S. vaccine distribution effort.
However, representatives from vaccine developers Pfizer and Moderna, which have already filed for emergency authorization of their shots from the FDA, will not be in attendance.
Slaoui’s remarks also come amid fallout from a New York Times story published Monday, which reports that administration officials turned down an offer from Pfizer to purchase additional vaccines in July.
Now, Pfizer may be unable to supply the U.S. with sufficient vaccines before next June because of subsequent deals with other countries, the Times reported.
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied the Times report Tuesday, telling Fox News that “it’s just simply not the case that we were offered more [vaccines] and rejected them.”
And despite concerns over purchasing availability, McEnany said the U.S. “will get the next batch in short order,” adding that “those negotiations are ongoing.”
Sarah Owermohle contributed to this report.