Coronavirus vaccine: US and India team up; Trump hopeful of COVID-19 jab by end of year
Trump has formally announced "Operation Warp Speed" to develop the COVID-19 vaccine and appointed Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GSK Vaccines, and four star army general Gustave Perna, to lead the initiative to develop the jab by the end of the year.
US President Donald Trump has said that his country is working with India on developing a vaccine for COVID-19 and that he is hopeful that a jab would be available by the end of the year.
Addressing media on Friday, Trump praised Indian-Americans as “great” scientists and researchers. He announced he was appointing a former head of vaccines at GlaxoSmithKline to spearhead the effort as researchers around the world scramble to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus that has killed more than 300,000 people globally.
“I just got back a short while ago from India recently and we are working very much with India and we have a tremendous Indian population in the US and many of the people that you are talking about are working on the vaccine too. Great scientist and researchers,” he told reporters in the Rose Garden of the White House as he unveiled a massive effort to speed track the development of coronavirus vaccine before year end.
“Yes. We are working very closely also with India,” Trump said responding to a question. He described Prime Minister Narendra Modi as a “very good friend” of him.
“India has been so great and as you know your Prime Minister has been a very good friend of mine,” Trump said.
OPERATION WARP SPEED
Trump formally announced "Operation Warp Speed" to develop the COVID-19 vaccine as his administration mounted an unprecedented effort that involves the country’s military to get a vaccine for the deadly disease before the end of the year.
“It is called Operation Warp Speed that means big, and it means fast a massive scientific industrial and logistical endeavour, unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project. You really could say that nobody has seen anything like we are doing, whether it's ventilators or testing nobody has seen anything like we are doing now within our country since the second world war incredible.
“It’s objective is to finish developing and then to manufacture and distribute a proven coronavirus vaccine as fast as possible. Again we would love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year. I think we are going to have some very good results coming out very quickly,” Trump said.
He said the United States is not looking at profits from the coronavirus vaccine.
Trump announced he would appoint Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GSK Vaccines, and four star army general Gustave Perna, to lead "Operation Warp Speed."
Slaoui, who left GlaxoSmithKline in 2017, will be the chief scientist. Slaoui, a world-renowned immunologist, helped create 14 new vaccines in 10 years during his time in the private sector.
Joining Slaoui his Chief Operating Officer will be General Perna, a four-star general who currently oversees 190,000 service members, civilians, and contractors as commander of the US Army Material Command that means logistics.
In preparation for this initiative, experts throughout the government have been collaborating to evaluate roughly 100 vaccine candidates from all over the world.
"They have identified 14 that they believe are the most promising, and they are working to narrow that list still further," Trump said.
The President also said the United States will work closely with other countries — even those who aren't allies, — to develop a vaccine. “We're working with other people outside and that's fine too. We want to get to the solution. We know exactly where the other countries are, and we'll be very happy if they are able to do it. We'll help them with delivery. We'll help with them with--in every way we can.
“Whoever gets it is going to be very proud to give it and develop a, they develop it and we will see what happens…,” he said.
US TO DONATE VENTILATORS TO INDIA
Trump said the US will donate ventilators to India.
"I am proud to announce that the United States will donate ventilators to our friends in India," Trump tweeted on Friday. However, the White House did not say how many breathing devices would be sent.
The US President also lauded Indian-American scientists and researchers for their efforts in developing medicines and vaccines to treat the deadly coronavirus.
A large number of scientists are engaged in cutting edge research in various aspects of medical science, including at the National Institute of Health, universities, research institutes and bio-pharma startups.
There are an estimated 4 million Indian-Americans in the United States, of which about 2.5 million are potential voters in the 2020 presidential elections this November.
As a presidential candidate, Trump was the first nominee to hold a separate election rally for Indian-Americans in October 2016 in New Jersey. The coronavirus, which first emerged in China's Wuhan city has claimed over 3,00,000 lives with 4.5 million confirmed infections across the world so far.
The US alone accounts for over 87,000 COVID-19 deaths. India, on the other hand, crossed 85,000 cases on Friday, surpassing China's count of 82,933 confirmed cases.