Former FDA commissioner Scott Gottlieb confirmed the Trump administration turned down Pfizer's offer for 100 million more coronavirus vaccine doses months ago.
Gottlieb, who's currently a Pfizer board member, told CNBC that the New York Times report about the refused offer was accurate, and he suspects the administration gambled that more companies would develop a vaccine, reported Axios.
"Pfizer did offer an additional allotment coming out of that plan, basically the second quarter allotment, to the U.S. government multiple times — and as recently as after the interim data came out and we knew this vaccine looked to be effective," Gottlieb told CNBC.
"I think the government made a bet that they are going to option or advance purchase vaccine from multiple manufacturers," he added. "They have agreements now with five or six manufacturers for about 100 million doses each manufacturer. They want to spread those bets. I think they're betting that more than one vaccine is going to get authorized and there will be more vaccines on the market, and that perhaps could be why they didn't take up that additional 100 million option agreement."
Pfizer and Moderna are seeking emergency approval this month to begin distributing the vaccines.
The U.S. has a population of about 330 million, and the initial Pfizer doses would be able to inoculate about 50 million since the vaccine requires two doses.
At least 70 percent of Americans must be vaccinated for life to return to normal, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.