President Donald Trump has appointed leaders to head up the Manhattan Project-style “Operation Warp Speed,” which seeks to develop a coronavirus vaccine by fall 2020, CNN reported Wednesday.
Chief of the operation will be Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division, and four-start Army General Army General Gustave Perna will assist him in logistics, two senior White House officials told CNN. Initial projections put a vaccine at 12-to-18 months away in January, but the project seeks to cut down that time by as much as eight months.
A vaccine in 18 months would already be a record pace, and mass producing doses by this fall would be a herculean achievement. (RELATED: ‘Blatant Xenophobia’: Democrats, Critics Fume Over Trump’s Pending Immigration Ban)
The development process is lengthy and expensive, with promising potential vaccines often missing the mark. One of the operation’s critical advantages is reportedly that the U.S. government will cover much of the cost leading pharma companies take on. (RELATED: Asked Whether China Censored Early Coronavirus Data, Senior WHO Official Said He ‘Didn’t Look’)
Trump is eager to bring an end to the pandemic and the economic disaster that has come along with it. A coronavirus vaccine is far and away the most effective means of controlling the disease and allowing Americans to return to fully normal life, as many have balked at the prospect of social distancing measures lasting up to 18 months.
The operation’s ultimate goal is to have 100 million vaccine doses ready by November, 200 million by December, and 300 million by January 2021, according to CNN.
The White House has not officially confirmed the Slaoui’s and Perna’s appointments.