‘Operation Warp Speed’: Trump announces new initiative for COVID-19 vaccine

In a Friday press briefing, President Donald Trump discussed “Operation Warp Speed,” a new federal government initiative to finish the development, manufacture and distribution of a proven coronavirus vaccine.

“Operation Warp Speed, that means big and it means fast,” President Donald Trump said in a Friday press briefing, remarking on how the initiative would accelerate the development and diagnostics of COVID-19 breakthrough therapies, and would be “unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project.”

The president said the initiative will bring together the efforts of federal agencies such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said that the Department of Defense would deliver a vaccine “at scale” by the end of the year, while the president remarked that providing larger vaccine quantities to areas in higher need of them would “make sense.”

During his announcement from the White House’s Rose Garden, the blares of horns from truckers protesting low shipping rates near the White House could be heard. Trump claimed the protests were in favor of him, calling the loud honking a “sign of love.”

Previous optimistic projections by White House health officials for when a COVID-19 vaccine may be available have been between 12-18 months. When asked by a reporter on why this initiative would supposedly take less time, the president did not provide specifics.

While remdesivir, chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine have been used to treat COVID-19 patients in hospitals and health settings, there are studies still underway exploring their supposed efficacy and potential side effects.

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On April 24, the Food and Drug Administration cautioned against the used of hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine for COVID-19 treatment outside of a hospital setting or clinical trial, as the drugs had been linked to serious “heart-related adverse events” and death in patients with COVID-19. 

As of May 15, more than 1.4 million people in the U.S. had been confirmed to have COVID-19. There had been more than 86,000 deaths and 246,000 recoveries, according to Johns Hopkins’ data.