President Donald Trump has promised to deliver a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year or earlier, saying that the government will invest in potential candidates. He added that, vaccine or no vaccine, America will reopen.
Speaking to reporters in the White House Rose Garden on Friday, Trump unveiled “Operation Warp Speed,” a public-private partnership aimed at accelerating the development of a vaccine for Covid-19, the deadly virus that has infected more than 4.5 million people worldwide and killed more than 300,000.
“This is an endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project,” he declared, referencing the wartime drive to develop the atomic bomb. Trump added that the US will invest in 14 possible vaccines, with a view to narrowing the list down further.
TRUMP: “Vaccine or no Vaccine, we’re back.” pic.twitter.com/KlWIdAtOiC
“We’re looking to get it by the end of the year, if we can. Maybe before,” he said. “We’re doing tremendously well.”
Trump’s timeframe is ambitious. His own coronavirus advisor, Dr Anthony Fauci, has stated that development will take between 12 and 18 months. Additionally, Fauci said this week that, even when such a shot is developed, “there’s no guarantee that the vaccine is actually going to be effective.”
Moreover, accelerating vaccine development brings new risks. Even in March, as the virus took hold in the US, some pharmaceutical firms were skipping animal testing and jumping straight to human trials. “This is not the vaccine to be doing it with,” one professor told Reuters at the time, pointing out that untested vaccines can cause more severe illnesses than the disease itself. This happened during a swine flu breakout in 1976, and during the H1N1 flu epidemic of 2009.
No vaccine has been developed for any of the new coronaviruses that have broken out in the past two decades – including SARS and MERS. However, Trump remains optimistic that the US will recover regardless. As humans build immunity to the coronavirus, the president said on Friday, “it’ll go away at some point….other things have never had a vaccine, and they go away.”
Reiterating his belief that the US economy should reopen and schoolchildren should return to the classroom by fall, Trump said “vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back.”
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