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Trump’s Operation Warp Speed selects Pfizer, Merck, AstraZeneca and Moderna as vaccine finalists

Published on 04/06/20 at 12:20pm
Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead

The Trump administration has selected the finalists for the COVID-19 vaccine it is seeking to make widely available by the end of the year.

The companies to make the cut are mostly pharmaceutical giants with Pfizer, Merck and AstraZeneca being among the world’s largest, while Moderna is the smallest company of the finalists.

This means their vaccine programs will get access to additional funding from the government, clinical trial assistance and help with manufacturing.

One of the most notable omissions from the list is Sanofi, with the company’s CEO, Paul Hudson, starting a controversy in the corporation’s native France, after he said the US would get the vaccine first due to their part in funding its development.

Operation Warp Speed was unveiled last month, and likened to the Manhattan Project, America’s secret development of the atom bomb during the Second World War. It is hoping to accelerate the production of a vaccine to be made widely available across the country by the end of the year.

It is being led by Dr Moncef Slaoui the former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccine division. 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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