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President Donald Trump held a press conference in the Rose Garden on Friday to give an update on Operation Warp Speed and the development and production of vaccines for COVID-19. The administration said that vaccine development has progressed to the point where they hope about 20 million Americans will be immunized from the virus by the end of December.
“The past nine months my administration has initiated the single greatest mobilization in U.S. history pioneering, developing, and manufacturing therapies and vaccines in record time, numbers like nobody’s seen before,” Trump said. “No medical breakthrough of this scope and this magnitude has ever been achieved this rapidly and this quickly, and we’re very proud of it.”
Trump spoke with leaders of Operation Warp Speed. Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the scientific head of the project, projected that up to 20 million coronavirus vaccines could be distributed by the end of the year.
“We plan to have enough vaccine doses available for use in the U.S. population to immunize about 20 million individuals in the month of December and another 25 to 30 million per month on an ongoing basis from there on,” Dr. Slaoui said.
He added that by February or March, if we more vaccines approved, even more Americans will be able to be immunized going forward.
Slaoui added that four of the six vaccines supported by Operation Warp Speed have reached phase 3 trials, and he encouraged Americans to volunteer for clinical testing.
On Monday, Pfizer and BioNTech announced that clinical trials for their COVID-19 vaccine were “more than 90% effective,” causing the stock market to rally. The pharmaceutical manufacturers will appeal to the Food and Drug Administration for emergency approval to begin using the vaccine as early as the end of November. They believe the can make at least 50 million doses by the end of 2020 and approximately 1.3 billion doses by the end of 2021.
President Trump gave Operation Warp Speed credit for Pfizer’s vaccine advancements, though Pfizer denied that it accepted federal funds to develop a vaccine.
“As a result of Operation Warp Speed, Pfizer announced on Monday that its China virus vaccine is more than 90% effective. This far exceeds any and all expectations. Nobody thought they’d get to that level, and we have others coming which we think will be an equal level, maybe more if that’s possible,” Trump said.
The president noted that earlier this year, his administration reached an agreement with Pfizer to provide $1.95 billion to support vaccine distribution.
“Our investment will make it possible for the vaccine to be provided by Pfizer free of charge,” Trump claimed, adding that Pfizer’s denial of participating in Operation Warp Speed was an “unfortunate misrepresentation.”
“We will work to secure an emergency use authorization, which will be coming down extremely soon,” Trump continued. The administration “will coordinate the distribution of the vaccine.”
“Front-line workers, the elderly, and high-risk Americans” will receive priority for vaccine distribution, according to the president.
Trump also criticized New York Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo for casting doubt on the effectiveness of a vaccine approved by the Trump administration. He said that the federal government will not provide New York with vaccine doses until the governor gives them approval to do so.
“He wants to take his time with a vaccine. He doesn’t trust where the vaccine’s coming from. These are coming from the greatest companies anywhere in the world, the greatest labs in the world, but he doesn’t trust the fact that it’s this White House, this administration,” Trump said.
“So we won’t be delivering it to New York until we have authorization to do so. That pains me to say that. This is a very successful, amazing vaccine at 90 percent and more,” he added.
“I hope he doesn’t handle this as badly as he’s handling the nursing homes,” Trump remarked.