Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar detailed Operation Warp Speed on Tuesday at the White House, a government effort to speed the development of a coronavirus vaccine.
“The president said that the timelines that the drug companies were laying out was unacceptable that we needed to move faster,” Azar told a group of reporters including Breitbart News at the White House in a meeting with the coronavirus task force.
Azar noted President Donald Trump’s goal was 100 million doses of a vaccine available by the fall and 300 million doses by January.
“There are no guarantees, this is drug development,” he said, noting the push to get the vaccine ready in just seven months was ambitious.
President Trump predicted Sunday a coronavirus vaccine ready by the end of 2020 and Dr. Anthony Fauci has said that a timeline of early January would fit within an attainable target.
Azar noted during the normal vaccine process, a drug company would space out their development of the vaccine between the four different phases before going to commercial-scale manufacturing.
“That’s what leads to these extremely long timelines for drug and vaccine development,” Azar said. “The president said that’s not acceptable, we have the money, the resources, the brainpower to take all across the Us government and the private sector to compress all those timelines.”
The federal government would fund a move to mass manufacturing on promising vaccine candidates, while the trial process continued.
“We’re going to tell them go ahead and start manufacturing now, and we’re going to pay for that even if we get to the end and there’s 50 million doses that actually don’t work,” Vice President Pence said.
Pence said that by phase three of the vaccine development trials, the CDC could issue a waiver to put it into use.
The government and private push for the vaccine are coordinated by the National Institutes of Health and the Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) partnership which includes over a dozen biopharmaceutical companies, the United States government, the Gates Foundation, and the European Medicine Association.
Azar said that the group would move quickly to get a vaccine manufactured once they found a successful candidate.
“If any country can develop a vaccine we will deploy all available resources, use all available technology and do so here in the United States to bring manufacturing scale to that,” he said.
FDA Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn said there were many pathways for preliminary approval for the vaccine.
“I do want to emphasize one thing, we definitely want to remove any unnecessary delays, but we will use data and science, which is a promise to the American people to fulfill our obligation regarding safety and ecovacy regarding a vaccine.