On Friday May 15, President Trump held a press conference from the Rose Garden at the White House to announce a new public-private partnership to hasten the development of a vaccine for the coronavirus. He said that he hopes to have at least one vaccine developed and ready to be distributed by the end of the year or earlier.
“An essential pillar of our strategy to keep America open is the development effective treatments and vaccines as quickly as possible. We’re looking to get it by the end of the year if we can, if not before,” the President stated.
President Trump noted that scientists at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) began work on developing a vaccine on January 11, 2020 within hours of the coronavirus’ genetic sequence being made available online.
The government’s new initiative to quickly develop a vaccine is called Operation Warp Speed.
“Its objective is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible. Again, we’d love to see if we can do it prior to the end of the year,” President Trump stated.
According to The Washington Post, Rick Bright, a former top official at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) cast doubt that a vaccine could be available by the end of the year in a testimony he gave before Congress on Thursday, May 14.
“A lot of optimism is swirling around a 12- to 18-month time frame, if everything goes perfectly,” Bright told a House panel in his testimony. “We’ve never seen everything go perfectly. My concern is that if we rush too quickly and consider cutting out critical steps, we may not have a full assessment of the safety of that vaccine,” Bright said.
After his testimony, HHS issued a scathing statement questioning Bright’s credibility. “Mr. Bright has not yet shown up for work, but continues to collect his $285,010 salary, while using his taxpayer-funded medical leave to work with partisan attorneys who are politicizing the response to COVID-19,” the HHS statement said.
The President continued in his press conference, “In preparation for Operation Warp Speed, experts throughout the government have been collaborating to evaluate roughly 100 vaccine candidates from all over the world. They have identified 14 that they believe are the most promising.”
“Under Operation Warp Speed the federal government will invest in manufacturing all of the top vaccine candidates before they’re approved. This will eliminate any unnecessary delay and enable us to begin providing Americans with a proven vaccine the day our scientists say ‘We’re ready. We got it.’”
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