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President Trump unveils new vaccine effort

President Donald Trump announces "Operation Warp Speed," a program to develop a coronavirus vaccine, during a press conference in the Rose Garden.

Posted: May 15, 2020 12:52 PM
Updated: May 15, 2020 12:53 PM


President Donald Trump, whose prediction of a coronavirus vaccine by year's end outpaces the outlook given by most health officials, announced the two men leading his "Operation Warp Speed" development effort during a noon event in the Rose Garden on Friday.

"We'd love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year," Trump said as he unveiled the project. "Operation Warp Speed," Trump said, "means big and it means fast."

CNN reported earlier this week that Trump was naming Moncef Slaoui, the ex-head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division, to lead the effort alongside four-star Army General Gustave Perna.

Slaoui, who has been a venture capitalist since leaving the pharmaceutical giant in 2017, will act as the chief adviser to the vaccine effort. Perna will serve as the chief operating officer overseeing logistics, White House officials said. Trump said this week he would "rapidly" mobilize the military to distribute a vaccine when it is ready.

Both men supplement the vaccine development efforts already underway by the federal government, including at the National Institutes of Health.

A leader at that agency, Dr. Anthony Fauci, also attended Friday's event in the Rose Garden. A top White House adviser during the coronavirus pandemic, Fauci has recently come under fire by some of Trump's allies for his caution on reopening the country, which he said would have grave consequences if not done carefully.

Fauci, whose testimony before a Senate committee earlier this week drew a rebuke from Trump, has not appeared alongside the President at the White House since April 29, when he delivered some good news on promising results of remdesivir clinical trials during a meeting in the Oval Office with Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards.

However, he has been spotted at the White House multiple times, including in a Tuesday meeting with Vice President Mike Pence and other task force members.

Fauci, like other health experts, has warned that developing a vaccine could take a year at minimum and potentially much longer. He said during his testimony this week it was unlikely a vaccine would be developed in time for students to return to school in the fall.

Trump has been more bullish. On Thursday, he predicted a vaccine would be developed by the end of 2020.

"We're going to have a lot of good things happen. We have a lot of great people working on it," he said in an interview with the Washington Examiner. "We're going to have a lot of good things, therapeutically and with a vaccine. And I think you'll have it by the end of the year."

Previewing the noon event to reporters Friday morning, Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway said Trump would also tout efforts already underway by the federal government to develop a vaccine.

"He'll be unveiling two professionals leading the effort, but that comes very quickly on the heels of the (Food and Drug Administration) cutting a ton of red tape and regulations to allow us to already be developing vaccines," Conway said.

"Today he will talk about health professionals and the military, and others (in) the private sector (and) public sector, (who) will be fully engaged in the development of this vaccine, at warp speed," Conway continued.

The White House tapped Slaoui to lead the "Warp Speed" vaccine project after interviewing four candidates, according to a senior administration official.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, senior adviser Jared Kushner, adviser Adam Boehler, Dr. Deborah Birx, Deputy Secretary of Defense David Norquist, HHS deputy chief of staff Paul Mango and Fauci all participated in the interview process.

The decision to select Slaoui was "unanimous" and apparent to all of the administration panelists during the interview with Slaoui, the senior administration official said.

Slaoui met with Trump at the White House on Wednesday, the official said, and Trump signed off on his selection after getting the unanimous nod from his team.

Slaoui "feels confident" about the administration's goal of delivering a Covid-19 vaccine by January, the official said, and is "very optimistic" about the prospects of success for the development of a vaccine.

Slaoui's primary mission will be to determine which vaccines to bet on as the administration moves to manufacture more than one vaccine before trials are completed.

Two of the other candidates were Elias Zerhouni and Mark McClellan, the former Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services director under President George W. Bush.

LIVE UPDATES: Coronavirus pandemic in the US

Slaoui has held seats on the boards of multiple corporations pursuing a coronavirus vaccine, including Moderna. A person familiar with the matter said Slaoui would vacate his seats upon assuming his role in the vaccine effort.

Scientists who are part of the Trump administration's coronavirus vaccine project have identified 14 vaccines to focus on for development, according to a senior administration official. Those involved in the effort expect to have six to eight of the vaccines being tested make it to subsequent rounds of trials, the official said.

Officials hope to have three to four vaccines make it through final testing and be made available, but that depends on how the testing and clinical trials proceed and how successful they are.

The HHS division tasked with vaccine development, BARDA, has seen its leadership in flux after the former director Dr. Rick Bright was ousted. Bright filed a formal whistleblower complaint alleging his early warnings about the coronavirus were ignored and that his concerns about promoting an untested therapeutic heralded by the President led to his removal.

He testified on Capitol Hill Thursday that 18 months may be an unrealistic goal for developing a vaccine.

"There is a lot of optimism. There is a lot of hope," Bright said in his testimony. "But that doesn't make a vaccine. There's a lot of work that needs to be done to make a vaccine."

This story has been updated with additional developments Friday.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 294994

Reported Deaths: 6681
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto19660230
Hinds18785386
Harrison16679278
Rankin12675264
Jackson12575226
Lee9683160
Madison9448199
Jones7945146
Forrest7204136
Lauderdale6833226
Lowndes6021137
Lamar587680
Lafayette5730113
Washington5218130
Bolivar4608123
Oktibbeha440993
Panola430394
Pearl River4159130
Warren4126114
Pontotoc408769
Marshall403192
Monroe3988126
Union395174
Neshoba3800168
Lincoln3539102
Hancock346974
Leflore3374118
Sunflower318386
Tate302474
Pike300095
Scott293670
Alcorn291761
Itawamba289675
Yazoo288762
Tippah278565
Copiah277757
Coahoma277568
Simpson274778
Prentiss269758
Wayne253741
Marion252578
Leake252471
Covington248879
Grenada247377
Adams234277
George231745
Newton229452
Winston221675
Jasper213245
Tishomingo212165
Attala206569
Chickasaw201151
Holmes181870
Clay179150
Stone172429
Tallahatchie170539
Clarke169371
Calhoun157828
Smith152731
Yalobusha144836
Greene127633
Walthall124140
Noxubee122829
Montgomery122238
Perry121634
Lawrence120221
Carroll118125
Amite111333
Webster110630
Jefferson Davis101731
Tunica99023
Claiborne98429
Benton93324
Humphreys92827
Kemper90123
Quitman77114
Franklin76019
Choctaw69516
Wilkinson62426
Jefferson62327
Sharkey48817
Issaquena1676
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 493252

Reported Deaths: 9929
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson709861374
Mobile36108725
Madison32405455
Tuscaloosa24110410
Montgomery22565500
Shelby21929215
Baldwin19732283
Lee14961153
Morgan13659251
Calhoun13275286
Etowah13176319
Marshall11261209
Houston10086261
Elmore9376185
Limestone9359134
Cullman8891181
St. Clair8822223
Lauderdale8603211
DeKalb8446175
Talladega7517163
Walker6518255
Jackson6492102
Autauga626491
Blount6097127
Colbert6001118
Coffee5245102
Dale4640107
Russell404730
Franklin399177
Covington3957106
Chilton3870100
Escambia377472
Tallapoosa3585142
Clarke343650
Chambers3410110
Dallas3403141
Pike293372
Lawrence282984
Marion281895
Winston246767
Bibb245060
Geneva239670
Marengo235855
Pickens224654
Barbour211551
Hale209768
Fayette200256
Butler196166
Henry182441
Cherokee177038
Monroe166139
Randolph163640
Washington156535
Clay144354
Crenshaw144354
Macon142043
Cleburne137739
Lamar132833
Lowndes131051
Wilcox121825
Bullock116936
Conecuh106724
Perry105527
Sumter98331
Coosa88823
Greene87632
Choctaw55023
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