As the coronavirus continues to spread throughout the world, the pharmaceutical industry has been working on developing treatments and vaccines at a pace never before seen in history.
The Trump administration is leading the way, partnering with public health agencies and private industry to produce a vaccine by the end of 2020, months ahead of original projections.
“Operation Warp Speed”
White House infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted early on in the outbreak that it would take from 12 to 18 months to produce a vaccine — and that is a shockingly fast timeline as well, given that vaccines typically take decades to be released.
However, Bloomberg reported that the White House’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiative will work to produce 300 million doses of a vaccine by January of 2021.
One of the biggest obstacles to developing and releasing any vaccine quickly is a lack of funding. Operation Warp Speed places the burden of the funding on the government instead of the pharmaceutical companies, which allows the fast-tracking of the process.
Bloomberg reports that “administration officials have been meeting on the effort for three to four weeks, one of the people said. A meeting on the project was scheduled at the White House on Wednesday.”
There are approximately 70 candidates for the COVID-19 vaccine that could potentially be tested by the program.
One of the most promising candidates was developed by researchers at Oxford University. Preliminary tests of the vaccine on rhesus macaques have shown that the vaccine does protect from exposure to the virus.
The next step of testing includes administering the vaccine to 1,000 human patients with plans to expand clinical trials to another 5,000 patients next month.
It’s unclear whether the Oxford vaccine will be used in Operation Warp Speed, as no official public announcement has been made on the matter yet.
The Washington Examiner also reported that two pharmaceutical companies, Moderna and Inovio Pharmaceuticals, are conducting vaccine tests in the US. Another Chinese company, CanSino Biologics, is doing the same.
Some state governors have said that their states will not be able to return to normal until a vaccine is available.