President Trump unveiled a new White House team dedicated to developing a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year: “Operation Warp Speed.”
“Another essential pillar of our strategy to keep America open is the development of effective treatments and vaccines as quickly as possible,” Trump said, introducing the team at the Rose Garden, as Fox News reports. “I want to see if we can do that very quickly.”
As for how fast this could happen, Trump said he was hoping the group could get a vaccine developed by the end of the year.
“When I say ‘quickly,’ we’re looking to get it by the end of the year if we can. Maybe before,” he announced. “This is an endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project.”
“No one has seen anything like we’re doing now within our country since the second world war. Incredible,” Trump continued.
President Trump says the effort to develop a vaccine is a "massive scientific, industrial and logistical endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project," which developed the first nuclear weapons https://t.co/Nj065CIsxp pic.twitter.com/T4nxIeQYGS
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 15, 2020
“That means big and it means fast. It’s objective is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine…prior to the end of the year. I think we’re going to have some very good results coming out very quickly,” he added.
Fox News reports Trump was joined at the event by Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Defense Secretary Mark Esper, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley, Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, and other officials from the Food and Drug Administration, National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
LIVE: POTUS Delivers Remarks on Vaccine Development https://t.co/ktpk4urgB1
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) May 15, 2020
Fox News adds:
The effort will be led by Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division, and Army Gen. Gustave Perna. Slaoui will oversee the vaccine development at Operation Warp Speed, while Serna will serve as the chief operating officer overseeing logistics.
The president announced Slauoi and Perna, calling them “two of the most highly-respected and skilled” officials.
Slaoui, a highly-respected vaccine developer, who is leading the effort, said he is “very confident” that they will “be able and do the utmost to deliver these objectives.”
“I have very recently seen early data with a clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine and this data made me even more confident..that we will be able to deliver a vaccine by the end of 2020,” he said. “We will do the best we can to do that.”
Perna added that they are undertaking a “Herculean task,” but that the “combined strengths” of all involved in the effort “will ensure our success.”
“We will defeat the enemy,” Perna said. “Why? Because winning matters.”
The new team comes as Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has served as the mouthpiece for the White House and the Coronavirus Emergency Response Team, has said a vaccine probably would not be ready by the end of the year.
ABC News reports, “Fauci has frequently cited the 12- to 18-month timeline.”
During a Senate hearing earlier this week, Fauci echoed his prediction.
“Even at the top speed we’re going, we don’t see a vaccine playing in the ability of individuals to get back to school this term,” Fauci testified.
Republican Senator Mitt Romney pressed Fauci on the timeline and asked whether a vaccine could be developed within a year or two.
Fauci answered in the affirmative, saying it was “not a long shot.”
“I think it’s clearly much more likely than not that somewhere within that time frame we will get a vaccine for this virus,” he added.