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President Donald Trump stated that he is “very confident” the U.S. will discover a coronavirus vaccine in the next seven months, following news that his administration has organized a “Manhattan Program-esque” project to fast-track development.
“We are very confident that we’re going to have a vaccine at the end of the year, by the end of the year,” Trump told Fox News during a town hall on Sunday night. “We think we’re going to have a vaccine by the end of this year. We’re pushing very hard.”
Bloomberg reported last week that the Trump administration is starting “Operation Warp Speed” to combine the efforts of the private and public sectors to enhance research. Pharmaceutical companies, the government, and the military are pooling their efforts, with the goal of 300 million vaccine doses available for Americans by the start of 2021. Experts have been bearish on the prospects of a vaccine in 2020, with most predicting twelve to 18 months before one is widely available to the public.
Trump acknowledged the skeptics, admitting that “the doctors would say, ‘Well you shouldn’t say that.’ But I’ll say what I think.”
“I think we’re going to have a vaccine much sooner rather than later,” the president said. “. . . This country needs a vaccine, and you’re going to have it by the end of the year.”
There are dozens of vaccines in development around the world, with researchers in Oxford among the most promising groups. Last month, researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Laboratory in Montana administered single doses of the Oxford vaccine to six rhesus macaque monkeys, who after 28 days were healthy despite being exposed to heavy quantities of the virus that sickened the control group.
Oxford University researcher John Bell, who is leading the project, revealed on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday that his team thinks the vaccine’s ability to generate “strong antibody responses is probably going to be OK,” but said the verdict was still out on whether it would be a safe treatment.
“We’re pretty sure we’ll get a signal by June about whether this works or not,” Bell stated.