Operation Warp Speed: President Trump predicts COVID-19 vaccine by end of 2020

President Donald Trump speaks about the coronavirus in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, May 15, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump spoke from the White House Friday about developments in the race to create a coronavirus vaccine and doubled down on his prediction that the U.S. will have a vaccine by the end of the year.

The president detailed the Trump administration project dubbed Operation Warp Speed that will overlap studies of different candidates that are made differently and act differently.

Trump also announced Dr. Moncef Slaoui has been appointed to lead the White House's initiative.

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Dr. Slaoui said during Friday's press conference that he's recently seen early data from a coronavirus vaccine trial that makes him feel "even more confident" we'll be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020.

In an interview with Fox Business on Thursday, the president said he would "rapidly" mobilize the U.S. military to distribute a vaccine once it is ready. He said the focus would be on nursing homes, the elderly and the most vulnerable to the coronavirus.

"You know it's a massive job to give this vaccine," Trump said in the interview. "We will have a tremendous force because assuming we get it, then you have to distribute it."

Virus experts have said it could take a year to 18 months to develop.

Worldwide, the virus has infected nearly 4.5 million people and killed over 303,000 — more than 85,000 in U.S. alone, according to Johns Hopkins University.

Whistleblower Dr. Rick Bright on Thursday testified before a House committee that the U.S. still lacks a comprehensive battle plan against the coronavirus in critical areas including masks, testing, treatments and vaccines.

“We need still a comprehensive plan, and everyone across the government and everyone in America needs to know what that plan is, and what role they play,” Bright told the House Energy and Commerce Committee. “There are critical steps that we need to do to prepare ... we do not still have enough personal protective equipment to manage our health care workers ... we still do not have the supply chains ramped up for the drugs and vaccines, and we still don’t have plans in place for how we distribute those drugs and vaccines. We still do not have a comprehensive testing strategy.”

The National Institutes of Health Director Francis Collins told The Associated Press that at least four or five possible vaccines “look pretty promising” and one or two should be ready to begin large-scale testing by July with others to follow soon.

However, he said that having a COVID-19 vaccine by January is “a stretch goal.”

But he added: "If we can get this vaccine out there even a day sooner than otherwise we might have, that’s going to matter to somebody.”

The NIH, in partnership with some of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, is creating a master plan that vaccine makers can follow. Separately, the Trump administration is working on how to produce possible vaccines now, a huge gamble before anyone knows which ones will pan out.

On Friday morning, the head of the Food and Drug Administration said he provided new guidance to the White House after data suggested that a rapid COVID-19 test used by President Donald Trump and others every day may provide inaccuracies and false negatives.

Commissioner Steve Hahn said that if a person is suspected of having the disease caused by the coronavirus, “it might be worth, if the test is negative, getting a second confirmatory test. That’s what our guidance is about.”

The test, by Abbott Laboratories, is used daily at the White House to test Trump and key members of his staff, including the coronavirus task force. The FDA said late Thursday it was investigating preliminary data suggesting the 15-minute test can miss COVID-19 cases, falsely clearing infected patients.

Coronavirus: What you need to know

There are now 31,625 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Ohio; 1,888 people have died from the virus and 5,773 were hospitalized, according to the Ohio Department of Health. Breakdown of Ohio cases by county >>

For most people, the virus causes mild or moderate symptoms that clear up in a couple of weeks. Older adults and people with existing health problems are at higher risk of more severe illness, including pneumonia, or death.

10TV is committed to bringing you a FACTS NOT FEAR approach to our coronavirus reporting. You can count on 10TV to give you the latest developments and the impacts on you and your family. For complete coverage, visit: 10TV.com/coronavirus.

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