by Sharon Rondeau
(Nov. 13, 2020) — At approximately 4:27 p.m. EST, President Trump began an address in the Rose Garden regarding “Operation Warp Speed,” his administration’s effort to combat the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19.
On Monda Pfizer announced that it has developed a vaccine which is 90% effective.
The vaccine will now go through FDA approval, Trump said, and that had “a different administration” been in office, a vaccine would have been as far away as a dozen years.
“The delivery will be very rapid; we’re ready to go,” he said regarding distribution to the public. He said in “a matter of weeks” frontline medical workers and the elderly will be able to receive it. It is important for “high-risk individuals” to be the first to receive it, Trump said, and rolling out plan will “end this phase of the pandemic and allow seniors to reclaim their golden years.”
“Millions of doses will soon go out the door,” Trump said.
“As soon as April,” he said, the vaccine will be available to all Americans, although he noted that based on New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s recent remarks, the administration will not “deliver it to a state that won’t be giving it to its people.”
“So the governor will let us know when he’s ready,” Trump added. “I hope he doesn’t handle this as badly as he’s handled the nursing homes,” a reference to the approximately 1,500 deaths which many believe resulted from Cuomo’s executive order mandating nursing homes to readmit residents who had been hospitalized from the coronavirus and not yet recovered, thereby infecting the healthy nursing-home population.
Trump recounted that his administration invoked the Defense Production Act to manufacture millions of pieces of personal protective equipment (PPE), emphasizing that any American who needed a ventilator received one.
The U.S. is now making ventilators to supply to other countries, Trump said.
He remarked that the stock market rose about 400 points on Friday. The unemployment rate has decreased by “more than half,” he said, following the virtual closure of the economy from COVID-19.
‘We went down less and we went up more” than other countries, he said, referring to the unemployment level.
“I will not go to a lockdown” a second time, he said, and “who knows which administration” will be in a position to make that decision going forward.
The AP and other media have said Joe Biden won the November 3 election, but Trump has not conceded, and some of his close advisers and cabinet members appear confident that when lawsuits and recounts are completed, Trump will be declared the winner.
He called upon an Army general and a physician, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, Scientific Head of Operation Warp Speed, to speak about their roles in the initiative, which was concived with the purpose of seeing the development of a vaccine a vaccine and effective therapeutics by the end of this year.
“We can say significant progress has been made,” Slaoui said, to the goal.
There are currently three “platforms,” of vaccine development, he said, and vaccine candidates now total six in late trial stages.
On Wednesday, Slaoui said, Moderna announced it has enrolled enough patients in its own late-stage clinical trial. Another vaccine in the “Phase 3” trial stage is made by AstraZeneca, he added.
Two are expected to ask the FDA for emergency use authorization (EUA), Dr. Slaoui said, and that in December, he expects approximately 20 million Americans could receive the vaccine.
“If we have more vaccines approved” by February or March, he said, more people can be vaccinated.
Development of therapeutics has progressed, he said, with two “large Phase 3 trials” of antibody treatments beginning soon.
“So potentially two vaccines and two therapeutics” could receive EUA “before the end of this year,” he said. “At every step,” he said, the process has been free of political influence and decided by “independent experts.”
He said he believes a vaccine is the end means by which to control the pandemic.
The general then spoke. OWS is “about saving lives,” he said, and “a herculean task.” “We are making steady progress, and we are ready to execute,” he said.
He said that federal, state and local governments have worked together “to achieve our mission” from the beginning of the process to now. “Today, we expect to have tens of millions of doses through EUA,” he said, and that his team will act “within 24 hours of EUA.”
“Vaccines will be allocated pro rata by population…we need the states who are part of the planning to accept the vaccine,” he said pointedly.
He said those “who need it first” should receive it but that eventually, “no place” should “be without a vaccine.”
Partnerships have been formed with between the federal government and pharmacies, drug manufacturers, and other entities. “This is about saving lives, the lives of the great American people,” he said, expressing a desire to restoring the country “back to normal.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar then spoke, followed by Vice President Mike Pence.