President Trump said Sunday he believes a vaccine will be available by January, a timeline that is months ahead of what some experts have said is possible.
“We are very confident that we’re going to have a vaccine at the end of the year,” Trump said during a Fox News virtual town hall.
Trump’s comments came several days after Bloomberg reported the Trump administration had launched a project known as “Operation Warp Speed” to expedite the normally slow vaccine research and production process.
The goal, according to Bloomberg, is to have 300 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by January. To accomplish that, the government will shoulder much of the financial risk of drug companies and pay for the research and production of multiple vaccines, knowing that several might fail.
The manufacturing of the vaccine candidates would begin before it’s known if they work. The result could be millions of unusable doses but -- hopefully -- at least one successful candidate.
Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told NBC’s Today Show he believes it’s possible to have hundreds of millions of doses ready by January.
“I'm obviously part of the team that's involved in that,” Fauci said. “... I think that is doable if things fall in the right place.”
Fauci emphasized the importance of getting “a vaccine that is safe, and that's effective and that you can scale up rapidly.”
“When you go into the next phase, we're going to safely and carefully but as quickly as we possibly can, try and get an answer as to whether it works and is safe,” he said. “And if [it works and is safe], we're going to start ramping up production with the companies involved. And you do that at-risk. In other words, you don't wait until you get an answer before you start manufacturing. You, at-risk, proactively start making it, assuming it's going to work. And if it does, then you could scale up and hopefully get to that timeline.
“So we want to go quickly, but we want to make sure it's safe and it's effective.”
Photo courtesy: ©Getty Images/Sittithat Tangwitthayaphum
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.