WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump said Friday that the U.S. government was working with other countries to quickly develop a vaccine to prevent coronavirus infection while also preparing for its distribution once one is ready.
Trump expressed his hope that a vaccine would be in place before the end of the year at an event in the White House Rose Garden, in which many administration officials wore masks but the president did not, and said his administration would mobilize its forces to get a vaccine circulated.
Trump said the government should invest in all the top candidates for the coronavirus vaccine, and that a list was narrowed to 14 successful possible vaccines with a proposal to narrow down further.
Former executive Moncef Slaoui of GlaxoSmithKline, who Trump has named to help spearhead the vaccine campaign, expressed hope that progress will be made before the end of the year.
“I have very recently seen early data from a clinical trial with a coronavirus vaccine. And these data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of vaccine by the end of 2020,” he said.
The name of the vaccine was not listed by Slaoui, but one produced by Moderna Inc (MRNA.O) with the aid of the National Institutes of Health recently received US approval from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for progressing to the next clinical trial level. Before taking up his new US post, Slaoui had been a member of the Moderna board.
Experts also cautioned that making a vaccine ready for general use will likely take 12 to 18 months or more. The president has tried to increase the time period while also playing down the need for a vaccine while he is urging US states to reopen their economies.
The president made clear his view at his Rose Garden event that the nation should move on from the epidemic without a vaccine.
“Vaccine or no vaccine, we’re back,” Trump said.
The president, who was criticized at the early stages of the pandemic for not coordinating travel restrictions with European countries, said the world was working together to create a vaccine.