As part of the broader response to the new coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump’s administration has focused substantial resources on the rapid development and production of a vaccine through a program known as Operation Warp Speed.
Those efforts appear to be on the verge of bearing fruit, as the president announced Monday that pharmaceutical company Moderna has begun a Phase 3 trial of a potential COVID-19 vaccine, Fox Business reported.
The trial could reportedly involve up to 30,000 participants in the United States and would determine whether an experimental vaccine truly does protect recipients from contracting or suffering from the new viral contagion.
Infection rates will be tracked between a test group that receives the vaccine and a control group that is given a placebo as the individual enrollees go about their normal daily affairs after receiving the shot, Fox Business noted.
Trump praises vaccine progress
President Trump heralded the promising news of Moderna’s Phase 3 trial during a press briefing about the pandemic that was part of a visit to a biotechnology facility in North Carolina on Monday.
Trump said, “We’re here, actually, today to discuss the exciting progress that we’ve achieved under the Operation Warp Speed — our historic initiative to develop, test, manufacture, and deliver a vaccine in record time. And that’s what it is, in record time.”
“Likewise, therapeutically, we are very, very advanced. You’re hearing about it and you’ll be hearing about it a lot more in the next two weeks. We will achieve a victory over the virus by unleashing America’s scientific genius, which is what it is,” he continued.
“I’m therefore proud to announce that this morning, the Moderna vaccine has officially entered phase three already,” Trump added. “And that’s phase three clinical trials: the final stage before approval. There’s never been anything like this, in terms of speed — nothing even close.”
Ready by year’s end?
According to a White House transcript of the event, the president went on to note that due to Operation Warp Speed, “We’ve shaved years off of the time that it takes to develop a vaccine — in some cases, many years — and we’ve done it while maintaining the FDA gold standard for safety.”
Trump further pointed out that a second potential vaccine was on the verge of officially entering its Phase 3 trial within the next few days and at least four other candidate vaccines could formally enter the final stage of trials within a matter of weeks.
He also revealed that production has already begun on promising vaccines simultaneously with testing and trials in order to be able to immediately begin delivering doses to those who need or want it as soon as it was available.
With any luck, the president’s previously expressed optimism that one or more vaccines could be ready for public use by the end of the year will indeed prove prescient.