The Pentagon will offer coronavirus vaccines to suspected terrorists at Guantanamo Bay, according to a report by The New York Times.
A federal prosecutor, Clayton Trivett Jr., told the Times that “an official in the Pentagon just signed a memo approving the delivery of the COVID-19 vaccine to the detainee population in Guantanamo.”
Trivett is currently trying cases against five inmates who allegedly conspired in the Sept. 11 attacks on the World Trade Center.
Forty prisoners will be offered vaccines “on a voluntary basis,” because consent is required to administer a treatment that has not gotten full FDA approval according to Pentagon policy. Prosecutors have found it difficult to move forward with the hearings because the defendants are not vaccinated, according to Fox News.
A judge has scheduled arraignment on Feb. 22 for three prisoners who allegedly conspired deadly terrorist attacks in Indonesia in 2002 and 2003. Prisoners who agree to be vaccinated could receive the second dose the night before the arraignment.
The arraignment hearing would be the first court appearance for these three detainees, who have been held behind bars for nearly 18 years.
Lawyers for some of the detainees said they would need to consult with their clients by letter about whether or not they wanted to consent to the vaccinations.
Terror suspects behind bars include Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who has claimed he was the mastermind behind the Sept. 11 attacks, Encep Nurjaman, Mohammed Nazir Bin Lep, and Mohammad Farik Bin Amin, who all three participated in terrorist attacks in Indonesia.
Dr. Terry Adirim, the Pentagon’s principal deputy assistant secretary of defense for health affairs, signed the memo authorizing the vaccination of the detainees, according to Mike Howard, a Pentagon spokesman.
Vaccinations of the detainees likely will begin just days after President Biden stated that it would take “months” before the majority of Americans could receive vaccinations.
“The brutal truth is, it’s going to take months before we can the majority of Americans vaccinated – months,” said Biden. “In the next few months, masks, not vaccines, are the best defense against COVID-19. Experts say that wearing masks from now just until April would save 50,000 lives that otherwise would pass away if we don’t wear these masks.”
According to Biden, the federal government will have enough doses for 300 million Americans by the early fall. Around 26 million doses have been administered, according to data from the CDC.