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IS A COVID-19 VACCINATION ON THE HORIZON?
by Sharon Rondeau
(May 15, 2020) — At 12:40 p.m. EDT, President Trump addressed the nation from the Rose Garden on an accelerated timeline to develop a vaccine against the coronavirus, or COVID-19.
The endeavor will be a public-private partnership, Trump said, a method his administration employed to deliver COVID-19 testing capabilities to all U.S. communities over the last two months.
He said that 350,000 tests are now being conducted daily.
Trump was joined by NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci, who was wearing a face mask due to possible exposure, in addition to White House Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx, who also wore a mask. Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley, HHS Secretary Alex Azar, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper and others were also present.
Trump said that on January 11, 2020, his administration began the development of a COVID vaccine just after the “genetic code” was made public and before the first known U.S. COVID illness was known or identified.
There are 130 “active trials” of potential medications proceeding to fight the virus, Trump said, thanking FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn for quickly approving them.
“Operation Warp Speed” is a “massive endeavor,” Trump said, comparing it to the World War II-era Manhattan Project. The purpose is to produce a COVID vaccine “as soon as possible,” perhaps “by the end of the year,” he said.
He said the military will be “totally involved” in the project, along with federal agencies and private corporations. Leading the new task force is a world-renowned immunologist, Trump said, and Gen. Gus Perna, a three-star general who oversees “logistics.”
Trump has previously exhibited optimism about the availability of a vaccine by the end of the year, although Fauci has appeared more skeptical. Trump repeated that assertion today.
“We’re going to have a tremendous year next year,” Trump said, following a upward “fourth quarter” as the country reopens for business following the pandemic.
“I think we’re going to come up with a solution to a problem like this country probably has never seen before,” Trump said, complimenting those immediately around him for “doing a great job.”
Both Milley and Esper said they are determined to see that a vaccine will be available by the end of the year. Both expressed the fight against the virus in terms of a war.
At 1:03, Trump took questions from reporters.