During the White House press briefing on Friday, President Donald Trump unveiled the new federal plan to produce a coronavirus vaccine entitled, “Operation Warp Speed.” Trump explained the plan’s name “means big and it means fast,” an initiative that would accelerate the development and diagnostics of COVID-19.
Trump announced that Operation Warp Speed would be “unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project.” The goal of this initiative is to speed up the development of a proven COVID-19 vaccine, then manufacture and distribute it throughout America as quickly as possible.
“We’d love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year,” Trump said, who has appointed Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division, and Gustave Perna, a four-star Army General, to lead Operation Warp Speed. Trump said that once the vaccine once is created, he would utilize the military to help speed up distribution.
Here’s what you need to know about Operation Warp Speed:
1. Trumps Wants Hundreds of Millions Coronavirus Vaccines Produced By The End of the Year, But Fauci Says January 2021 Is More Realistic
Slaoui said that based on the data pulled from early clinical trials, he felt confident they could deliver “a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020.” However, top health experts, including Dr. Fauci, has repeatedly said that it will take at least a year to produce a vaccine.
Fauci told TODAY on April 30, that the U.S. could have a working vaccine by January. He said, “We want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it’s safe and it’s effective. I think that is doable if things fall in the right place. Remember, go back in time, I was saying in January and February that it would be a year to 18 months (to develop a vaccine), so January is a year, so it isn’t that much from what I had originally said.”
“If so, we’re going to start ramping up production with the companies involved, and you do that at risk,” Fauci said. “In other words, you don’t wait until you get an answer before you start manufacturing. You, at risk, proactively start making it, assuming that it’s gonna work. And if it does, then you can scale up and hopefully, get to that timeline.”
Dr. Rick Bright, the whistleblower who was removed from his position a the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority,testified before Capitol Hill on Thursday that even 18 months may be an unrealistic goal for developing a vaccine.
“There is a lot of optimism,” Bright said. “There is a lot of hope. But that doesn’t make a vaccine. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to make a vaccine.”
2. Defense Secretary Mark Esper Said That the Mission To Find a Coronavirus Vaccine Started In January
U.S. Defense Secretary Marker Esper said, “Winning matters, and we will deliver by the end of this year a vaccine at scale to treat the American people and our partners abroad. You know, the Department of Defense has been in this fight since day one, going back to January,” he said. “We look forward to this next greatest phase of this fight against the coronavirus. We were all in then, we are all in now, and we will be all in in the future. And we will deliver on time. We will deliver, we will win this fight… We will get the job done.”
Trump also spoke about how the mission to develop a vaccine started in January. He said on Friday, “Scientists at the NIH began developing the first vaccine candidate on January 11th — think of that — within hours of the virus’s genetic code being posted online. Most people never even heard what was going on January 11, and we were out there trying to develop a vaccine, not even knowing what we were up against.”
3. The Coronavirus Vaccine May Be Distributed To Hot Zone Areas First
For those concerned about the possibility that the vaccine will be mandatory… pic.twitter.com/mgYBAsmhCC
— M3thods (@M2Madness) May 15, 2020
While Esper said that the Department of Defense would deliver a COVID-19 vaccine “at scale” by the end of the year, Trump said during Friday’s press briefing that providing larger vaccine quantities to areas in higher need of them would “make sense.”
CNN reporter Kaitlan Collins asked Trump if this would be “a fully approved vaccine for the full public or a partially approved vaccine with emergency use?” to which Trump said, “We’re looking for a vaccine for everyone that wants to get it. Not everybody is going to want to get it.
4. Operation Warp Speed Is Testing Out Over 100 Potential Treatments While Working With the FDA, NIH, & HHS
Trump announced on Friday, “My administration cut through every piece of red tape to achieve the fastest-ever, by far, launch of a vaccine trial for this new virus, this very vicious virus. And I want to thank all of the doctors and scientists and researchers involved because they’ve never moved like this, or never even close.”
“The [National Institute of Health] and [Department of Health and Human Services] have also been working constantly with private industry to evaluate more than 100 potential treatments. The Food and Drug Administration has swiftly approved more than 130 therapies for active trials, and 450 are in the planning stages.”
5. Trump Said, ‘Vaccine Or No Vaccine, We’re Back’ & That Coronavirus Will ‘At Some Point, Go Away’
“Vaccine or no vaccine, we're back."
— Breaking911 (@Breaking911) May 15, 2020
While the importance of a working coronavirus vaccine can not be oversold, Trump mentioned that America will not wait before one is approved before opening the country back up. Even though Trump said his administration is providing an estimated $10 billion to support medical research for a vaccine and treatment, Trump said, “I want to make something thing clear. It’s very important. Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back.”
“We think we are going to have a vaccine in the pretty near future, and if we do, we are going to really be a big step ahead,” Trump declared. “And if we don’t, we are going to be like so many other cases where you had a problem come in. It’ll go away at some point, it’ll go away.”