U.S. President Donald Trump announced on Friday two men will lead his administration’s new effort for COVID-19 vaccine development. Former pharmaceutical executive Moncef Slaoui and Army General Gustave Perna, the commander of United States Army Materiel Command, will lead “Operation Warp Speed,” the new project to accelerate the vaccine development process for COVID-19. The new project is a “historic partnership” of federal agencies, Trump told a noon briefing in the White House Rose Garden.
He said experts throughout the government have been evaluating 100 vaccine candidates. Among them, 14 vaccine candidates are showing promise.
Trump said he is hopeful a COVID-19 vaccine can be developed by the end of the year. “Typically pharmaceutical companies wait to manufacture a vaccine until it has received all the regulatory approvals necessary, and this can delay the vaccine’s availability to the public as much as a year, even more than that,” Trump said. The federal government will invest in manufacturing all of the top vaccine candidates before they are approved, according to Trump.
“I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine, and this data made me feel even more confident that we’ll be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020,” said Slaoui, former chair of the vaccines division at pharmaceutical GlaxoSmithKline, a British multinational pharmaceutical company headquartered in London. He said that in addition to a vaccine, the new project will also focus on the development of medicines for those COVID-19 infected, as well as improving and “optimizing” diagnostic tests.