U.S. President Donald Trump participates in a live Fox News Channel virtual town hall called “America Together: Returning to Work” about response to the coronavirus pandemic being broadcast from inside the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, U.S. May 3, 2020.
Joshua Roberts | Reuters
President Donald Trump said on Sunday that he was confident that there will be a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, a timeline that’s even speedier than the optimistic projections laid out by his administration’s public health advisors.
“We are very confident that we are going to have a vaccine at the end of the year, by the end of the year,” Trump said. “We think we are going to have a vaccine by the end of this year, and we are pushing very hard.”
The comments came during a Fox News town hall at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington. Public health officials have said a coronavirus vaccine could take a year to 18 months. Vaccines often take many years to develop and distribute.
“We are pushing supply lines. We don’t even have the final vaccine,” Trump said. He said “many companies are, I think, close,” citing pharmaceutical maker Johnson & Johnson by name.
Johnson & Johnson, which has partnered with the Department of Health and Human Services to manufacture a vaccine, has said it is hoping to get approval for one in early 2021.
Researchers at Oxford University working on vaccine development have said that theirs, if it proves effective, could be widely distributed by September.
The World Health Organization has said there are currently dozens of coronavirus vaccines in development.
Trump has seen his path to reelection in November grow steeper as the economic toll from the spreading coronavirus continues to mount. Bloomberg News reported last month that the administration’s “Operation Warp Speed” is seeking to have 300 million doses of a vaccine ready by January, in part by pooling private and government resources, including the military.
Economists have warned that business is unlikely to return until consumers are confident that they can safely return to their pre-Covid-19 routines, which would likely require a vaccine or effective treatment for the flu-like contagion to be widely available.
U.S. job losses since the start of the coronavirus pandemic have already wiped out all of the gains made during the recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.
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