President Donald Trump announced a new public-private partnership to speed the development of a vaccine against the COVID-19 virus.
Trump, along with other administration officials, laid out the details of “Operation Warp Speed” in the Rose Garden Friday afternoon.
“It’s called Operation Warp speed. That means big, and it means fast,” Trump said. “Nobody’s seen anything like what we’re doing."
The goal of the project, according to Trump, is to bring together private pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and the military to try to cut the time it takes to develop a vaccine by as much as eight months.
“I think we’re going to have a vaccine by the end of the year, and I think distribution will take place almost simultaneously because we’ve geared up the military,” Trump said in advance of Friday’s event.
The program will be tasked with settling on up to four vaccines, testing them and then producing 100 million doses of vaccine that will be available by November, 200 million doses by December and 300 million doses by January, a senior administration official said.
Whether the new task force can accomplish that goal is yet to be seen. Generally, vaccine development is measured in years, not months. Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, has said the best-case scenario for vaccine development would be 12 to 18 months.
What could help move the effort ahead faster is a promise of virtually unlimited funding for the effort.
“When the President was asked, ‘What do you want to put into it?’ He said, ‘No limit,’” a White House official told CNN.
Trump introduced Moncef Slaoui, 61, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division who will oversee vaccine development. Gen. Gustave Perna, the commanding general of the U.S. Army Materiel Command, will serve as the chief operating officer overseeing logistics.
According to a story from Bloomberg News, the task force is discussing the use of a master protocol to test potential vaccines. Instead of multiple clinical trials run by each drugmaker, the government would organize one large trial to test several vaccines at once. The ones that show the most promise would be advanced.
Researchers working on Operation Warp Speed say they have identified 14 vaccine candidates being tested around the world and hope to be able to push ahead with eight of those potential vaccines by July.
You can watch the press conference below.