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US government reveals secret project to speed up coronavirus vaccine development
April 30, 2020
The project is called “Operation Warp Speed” and has a target of developing hundreds of millions of vaccines that will be available by the end of the year, the official said. While a vaccine has not been officially introduced yet, various entities around the world are working on creating a vaccine.
The project intends to dramatically accelerate the usual process of creating a vaccine.
It is not yet clear if the figure set as a goal is realistic.
Dr Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has repeatedly advised that developing a vaccine for coronavirus would take between a year and 18 months.
Dr Fauci said pharmaceutical firms and government experts would work together towards meeting the target.
The project has been dubbed a Manhattan Project-like effort and it was first reported by Bloomberg News.
The news comes as the number of coronavirus infections in the US soars over one million, with experts claiming there could be a hike in deaths in coming weeks.
It is because of these claims, the scientific community has been under more pressure to develop a vaccine.
Vaccine trials are usually conducted on animals first, and then a three-phase process starts.
In the first phase, a small group of people is injected with the vaccine to observe their immune response and assess safety.
The second phase is a randomised trial which usually involves a larger number of people – normally in the hundreds, and often involving more at-risk individuals.
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If the results are favorable, the third phase tests the efficacy and safety on a group of thousands or tens of thousands of individuals, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Although the there phases often last a long time before a vaccine is ready, having a successful injection would mean the country is able to fully reopen.
President Trump has consistently publicised the possibility of developing a vaccine in a short period of time.
Asked about a timeline during the Cabinet Room meeting with pharmaceutical bosses last month, Trump said: “I don’t know what the time will be. I’ve heard very quick numbers, that of months.”
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“And I’ve heard pretty much a year would be an outside number. So I think that’s not a bad range.
“But if you’re talking about three to four months in a couple of cases, a year in other cases,”
It comes as reports emerged that severely ill Covid-19 patients who took remdesivir could bounce back faster than patients who did not take it, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases said Wednesday.
The US Food and Drug Administration has not yet authorised any drugs for the treatment of Covid-19.
However, it plans to issue an emergency-use exception for remdesivir, according to The New York Times.
In a statement to CNN, the FDA said it is working with Gilead Sciences, the manufacturer of remdesivir, to make the drug available to patients.
“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant, positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Dr Fauci said of the drug.
The outcome from the initial trial reveals remdesivir helped shorten recovery time for Covid-19 patients from 15 to 11 days.