Washington, May 15 (PTI) US President Donald Trump on Friday said he hoped a COVID-19 vaccine would be available by the end of the year and announced to appoint a former head of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline to spearhead the effort as researchers around the world scramble to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus that has killed more than 300,000 people globally.
Trump formally announced 'Operation Warp Speed' to develop the COVID-19 vaccine as his administration mounted an unprecedented effort that involves the country’s military to get a vaccine for the deadly disease before the end of the year.
“It is called Operation Warp Speed that means big, and it means fast a massive scientific industrial and logistical endeavour, unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project. You really could say that nobody has seen anything like we are doing, whether it's ventilators or testing nobody has seen anything like we are doing now within our country since the second world war incredible,” he said.
“It’s objective is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible. Again we would love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year. I think we are going to have some very good results coming out very quickly,” Trump said.
He said the United States is not looking at profits from the coronavirus vaccine.
“The last thing anybody is looking for is profit in terms of what we are doing. Every company they want to get it out,” Trump told reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House.
“In addition, it will continue accelerating the development of diagnostics and breakthrough therapies. The great national project will bring together the best of American industry and innovation, the full resources of the United States government, and the excellence and precision of the United States military; we have a military totally involved,” he added.
Trump announced he would appoint Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GSK Vaccines, and four star army general Gustave Perna, to lead 'Operation Warp Speed.' Slaoui, who left GlaxoSmithKline in 2017, will be be the chief scientist. Slaoui, a world-renowned immunologist, helped create 14 new vaccines in 10 years during his time in the private sector.
Joining Slaoui his Chief Operating Officer will be General Perna, a four-star general who currently oversees 190,000 service members, civilians, and contractors as commander of the US Army Material Command that means logistics.
In preparation for this initiative, experts throughout the government have been collaborating to evaluate roughly 100 vaccine candidates from all over the world.
'They have identified 14 that they believe are the most promising, and they are working to narrow that list still further,' he said.
“We started off with over 100 we are down to 14, and we have some really interesting choices to be made doing very well. Through operation warp speed, the federal government is providing unprecedented support and resources to safely expedite the trials. Moving on at record, record, record speed,” he said.
The president also said the United States will work closely with other countries — even those who aren't allies, — to develop a vaccine.
“We're working with other people outside and that's fine too. We want to get to the solution. We know exactly where the other countries are, and we'll be very happy if they are able to do it. We'll help them with delivery. We'll help with them with--in every way we can. We have no ego when it comes to this, no ego whatsoever,” he asserted.
“Whoever gets it is going to be very proud to give it and develop a, they develop it and we will see what happens. We have got countries that are allies that we have some countries frankly that aren't allies where we are working very closely together so we are working together with many different countries and again we have no ego, we have no ego,” he said.
“Whoever gets it we think it's great and we're going to work with them they are going to work with us likewise if we get it we are going to be working with them,” said the president.
Responding to a question, Trump said the US is working with India on developing a vaccine for COVID-19. He praised Indian-Americans as “great” scientists and researchers.
“I just got back a short while ago from India recently and we are working very much with India and we have a tremendous Indian population in the US and many of the people that you are talking about are working on the vaccine too. Great scientist and researchers,” he said “Yes. We are working very closely also with India,” Trump said responding to a question. PTI LKJ PMS PMS