Trump’s ‘Operation Warp Speed’ Aims to Rush Coronavirus Vaccine

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The Trump administration is organizing a Manhattan Project-style effort to drastically cut the time needed to develop a coronavirus vaccine, with a goal of making enough doses for most Americans by year’s end.

Called “Operation Warp Speed,” the program will pull together private pharmaceutical companies, government agencies and the military to try to cut the development time for a vaccine by as much as eight months, according to two people familiar with the matter.

As part of the arrangement, taxpayers will shoulder much of the financial risk that vaccine candidates may fail, instead of drug companies.

The project’s goal is to have 300 million doses of vaccine available by January, according to one administration official. There is no precedent for such rapid development of a vaccine.

President Donald Trump’s top medical advisers, led by the infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci, have repeatedly said that a coronavirus vaccine won’t be ready for 12 to 18 months at best. Until then, White House guidelines envision some economically damaging social-distancing practices maintained even as the U.S. begins to resume a more normal social and business life.

Last month, Trump directed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar to speed development of a vaccine, and administration officials have been meeting on the effort for three to four weeks, one of the people said. A meeting on the project was scheduled at the White House on Wednesday.

The people familiar with the project and the administration officials asked not to be identified because it hasn’t yet been publicly announced.

A spokesman for the Department of Health and Human Services, Michael Caputo, said the president refused to accept the timeline for standard vaccine development and encouraged a breakthrough process.

Vaccine development is typically slow and high risk. The project’s goal is to cut out the slow part, the people said. Operation Warp Speed will use government resources to quickly test the world’s most promising experimental vaccines in animals, then launch coordinated human clinical trials to winnow down the candidates. – READ MORE

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