WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday the United States plans to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine, an effort that has been dubbed “Operation Warp Speed.”
Trump, speaking to reporters in the Oval Office, said he is in overall charge of the project aimed at finding a vaccine for the virus as quickly as possible.
“Whatever you can humanly do, we’re going to have,” he said. “I hope we’re going to have a vaccine and we’re going to fast-track it like you’ve never seen.”
Asked who is in charge of “Operation Warp Speed,” Trump said, “You know who’s in charge of it? I am.”
“I’m the one who gets blamed,” he added.
Government agencies and the military will team up with the private sector with the goal of having 100 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine ready by the end of 2020. Executives and other experts have previously suggested that clinical trials to guarantee a vaccine is safe and effective could take longer, at a minimum of 12 to 18 months.
The Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, or BARDA, recently announced nearly $1 billion in support of vaccine manufacturing efforts by Moderna and Johnson & Johnson.
As the country races to find a vaccine for the potentially deadly virus it is also working toward treatments, with early data showing on Wednesday that Gilead Sciences Inc’s experimental antiviral drug remdesivir helped patients recover more quickly from the illness caused by the coronavirus.
(Reporting by Jeff Mason; Writing by Lisa Lambert; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis)