President Donald Trump listens May 15 as Moncef Slaoui, a former GlaxoSmithKline executive who Trump tapped to lead Operation Warp Speed, speaks about the center for disease control,Coronavirus, quarantine, symptoms, social distancing, virus protection, outbreak, coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19, pandemic, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus prevention, coronavirus explained, covid-19 news, covid-19 updates, covid-19 outbreak, corona, Peter Hotez, COVID-19 Vaccine, Center for Vaccine Development at the White House. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo
President Donald Trump formally announced the former head of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline and a general in charge of Army readiness will lead the government’s effort to speed the development of potential center for disease control,Coronavirus, quarantine, symptoms, social distancing, virus protection, outbreak, coronavirus outbreak, COVID-19, pandemic, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus prevention, coronavirus explained, covid-19 news, covid-19 updates, covid-19 outbreak, corona, Peter Hotez, COVID-19 Vaccine, Center for Vaccine Development vaccines.
Moncef Slaoui, who left GlaxoSmithKline in 2017, will be chief scientist of what the administration has deemed Operation Warp Speed. “That means big and it means fast,” Trump said, comparing the operation to the Manhattan Project, a program to develop an atomic bomb that employed more than 100,000 people. Army Gen. Gustave Perna will be the chief operating officer for the project.
Trump said Operation Warp Speed is evaluating 14 vaccine candidates. “We’re looking to get it by the end of the year, maybe before,” he added. But Trump said that a lack of a vaccine would not prevent the United States from reopening.
“Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” Trump said. “We’re starting the process.”
The president also said the United States will work closely with other countries — even those who aren’t allies, including China — to develop a vaccine. Trump said that cost will not be barrier to access. “The last thing anyone is looking for is profit.”
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Operation Warp Speed will not only entail the development of a vaccine but also work to ensure that a successful vaccine can be produced rapidly and distributed efficiently, Trump said. Vaccine experts have expressed concern about whether there are sufficient supplies of materials such as glass vials to hold vaccine doses.
Slaoui said that he had recently seen encouraging unpublished data from a clinical trial of an unnamed vaccine candidate. “These data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020,” he said.
Speaking minutes later, Azar gave a slightly different deadline, of January 2021, and said the goal was to make sufficient doses by then to vaccinate every American.
Public health experts, including National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci, have repeatedly cautioned that developing an effective vaccine will take at least a year to a year and a half.
“There are a couple of things that are inherent in all vaccine development. First of all, there’s no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective,” Fauci testified to the Senate HELP Committee Tuesday. “I still feel cautiously optimistic that we will have a candidate that will give some degree of efficacy,” he added.
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