The Trump administration is launching a new effort to speed up the development of vaccines to prevent Covid-19, according to a news report.

Citing two people familiar with the matter, Bloomberg reported Wednesday that the administration is launching a program, dubbed “Operation Warp Speed,” to potentially have 300 million doses of vaccine against the virus that causes Covid-19, SARS-CoV-2, by January. The financial news service compared the effort – which will enlist government agencies, the drug industry and the military – to the Manhattan Project, the effort during World War II to develop nuclear weapons, reporting that it would cut the time to develop a vaccine by as much as eight months. President Donald Trump directed Alex Azar, secretary of health and human services, to expedite vaccine development, and officials from the administration have already been meeting for three to four weeks, Bloomberg reported.

A vaccine against the virus – along with widespread testing and contact tracing – is considered key to reopening the country and ending the lockdown that has kept Americans sequestered at home and, as of this week, has led to 30 million Americans becoming jobless, including 3.8 million who filed new jobless claims, as businesses have been forced to close. Still, most estimates for when a vaccine could become available project that happening in at least 12-18 months.

With so much hinging on efforts that seem unlikely to bear fruit for at least a year, it’s no surprise that others have also sought to streamline and expedite development of vaccines and drugs for Covid-19. Indeed, numerous companies have already launched programs to develop vaccines against SARS-CoV-2, with several product candidates already seeing rapid clinical development.

On Thursday, British drugmaker AstraZeneca said it had entered a partnership with the University of Oxford to develop a vaccine developed at the institution, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19, which is already in a Phase I/II clinical trial that may have data as early as next month. Meanwhile, Moderna plans to enter its vaccine, mRNA-1273, into a Phase II trial, assuming it’s successful in the ongoing Phase I trial. A Chinese firm, CanSino Biologics, is also running a Phase II study.

Photo: Esben_H, Getty Images

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