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Trump announces ‘Operation Warp Speed’ to develop a COVID-19 vaccine by the end of the year

Published on 18/05/20 at 11:53am
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

President Trump has announced a task force to quickly develop a vaccine for the US, titled Operation Warp Speed.

Explaining the project, Trump told reporters at the White House Rose Garden that it is: “A massive scientific, industrial, and logistical endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project.  You really could say that nobody has seen anything like we’re doing, whether it’s ventilators or testing.  Nobody has seen anything like we’re doing now, within our country, since the Second World War.”

“Its objective is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible.  Again, we’d love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year.  We think we’re going to have some very good results coming out very quickly.  In addition, it will continue accelerating the development of diagnostics and breakthrough therapies.”

There are concerns that if this project actually yielded a viable vaccine, the Trump administration would either be unwilling to share it with the international community, or would use it as leverage in dealings with allies and adversaries.

Trump did also say that with or without a vaccine, Americans would have to go back to work soon.

Trump was joined by Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine division, who will head up Operation Warp Speed. During his time at GSK, Slaoui oversaw vaccine pipelines that produced Rotarix, used to prevent diarrhea in infants, and Cervarix, used to protect against a viral infection that can lead to cervical cancer. He left the company in 2017 and joined the board of Moderna.

Operation Warp Speed will also be led by General Gustave Perna, a four star US General, who has served as the Commander of the US Army Materiel Command, which manages the service’s supply chain across the world, since 2016. He was previously the Army’s deputy Chief of Staff.

Conor Kavanagh

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