During an event in the Rose Garden on Friday afternoon, President Donald Trump revealed details of his administration's plan to develop a vaccine for the novel coronavirus by the end of 2020, CNN reported.
Trump dubbed the project "Operation Warp Speed" because it "means big and it means fast." Trump reiterated the assertion he made in an interview with The Washington Examiner on Thursday, that a vaccine can be completed by the end of the year; a projection that most medical experts, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, don't agree with, per CNN.
Operation Warp Speed will be headed up by former GlaxoSmithKline vaccine expert Dr. Moncef Slaoui and Gen. Gustave Perna, a four-star Army general, CNN reported. Trump announced these appointments during the event and expressed his absolute confidence that the two men would succeed in meeting his year-end goal.According to CNN, Slaoui participated in a rigorous interview process before being chosen to head up the Operation Warp Speed project. Dr. Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, HHS deputy chief of staff Paul Mango, and Jared Kushner all participated in the interview process.
Four candidates were interviewed, and Slaoui was the obvious choice to everyone who participated in the interviews, a senior administration official told CNN.
Trump also announced that the government has been working with private companies to develop a vaccine since January, according to Fox News. He stated that those partnerships between public and private companies would continue so that a vaccine can be developed as quickly as possible. The president compared the collaborations to the Manhattan Project.
"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."The president stressed that developing a vaccine and reliable treatments for novel coronavirus is crucial to reopening the country, per Fox News. Trump has recently commented that he doesn't believe testing is as important as health officials are saying, and he has stressed the need for vaccines and treatments over testing.
He went on to say that because this project is so crucial, the federal government is doing everything they can to provide support to the people and companies working on vaccines and developments.
A senior administration official told CNN that scientists working with the Trump administration have selected 14 potential vaccines for further development. The official continued saying that five or six of those vaccines will likely be picked for further development after initial rounds of testing.
President Trump said that part of Operation Warp Speed was making sure that the infrastructure is in place to administer the vaccine as soon as it becomes available, Fox News reported.
"We're getting ready so that when we get the good word that we have the vaccine, the formula, we have what we need, we're ready to go," he said. "Our task is so urgent, the federal government will invest in manufacturing, all of the top vaccine candidates before they're approved. They better come up with a good vaccine because we're ready to go."