US President Donald Trump has said that US will reopen whether “vaccine or no vaccine”, as he announced an objective to deliver a coronavirus vaccine by year end. He likened the vaccine project, dubbed “Operation Warp Speed”, to the World War Two effort to produce the world”s first nuclear weapons.
Speaking at a White House Rose Garden news conference on Friday, Trump said the project would begin with studies on 14 promising vaccine candidates for accelerated research and approval. “That means big and it means fast,” he said of Operation Warp Speed. “A massive scientific, industrial and logistical endeavour unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project.”
Trump named an Army general and a former healthcare executive to lead the operation, a partnership between the government and private sector to find and distribute a vaccine. Moncef Slaoui, who previously led the vaccines division at pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline, will lead the mission, while Gen Gustave Perna, who oversees distribution for the US Army, is to serve as chief operating officer. Speaking after Trump, Slaoui said he was “confident” that a “few hundred million doses of vaccine” will be delivered by the end of 2020.
Many experts say a vaccine is the only thing that will give Americans confidence in fully reopening the economy in the absence of widespread testing.