Operation Warp Speed Chief Says Life Will Return to Normal With a Coronavirus Vaccine

Moncef Slaoui, the chief advisor of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government's effort to quickly develop ways to prevent and treat COVID-19, has said a vaccine could enable people to return to their pre-pandemic lives.

Slaoui made the comments on the United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) podcast Learning Curve last week. Host Michael Caputo, assistant secretary for public affairs at the HHS, asked Slaoui to describe the aims of Operation Warp Speed to listeners.

In May, President Donald Trump appointed the venture capitalist and former head of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines department to lead the $10 billion effort alongside four-star Army General Gustave Perna. It is hoped it will help deliver 300 million vaccine doses by January 2021.

Slaoui told Caputo: Operation Warp Speed is about "the ultimate solution or resolution to controlling the coronavirus pandemic." This would come via both the development of vaccines and treatments, he said.

"We are focusing on either accelerating treatments to be developed and help patients live, save their lives, decrease their hospitalization time, prevent them from getting hospitalized.

"And then, at the same time, accelerating the development of vaccines that will ultimately allow us to reopen society and live life like we used to live it," he said.

Slaoui said he hoped vaccine candidates being researched will be shown to be safe and effective for use by this fall.

"I'm convinced we will have effective vaccines, and I'm convinced it will happen at a pace that is unprecedented. Are we going to have them in 10 months, or 12 months, or 13 months? I can't predict with that level of precision, but it's going to be incredibly fast," he said.

The speed of development partly comes down to the money being injected into the projects, according to Slaoui.

"It's a very big financial risk, but it doesn't cut any one of the important sets of information and understanding of the functioning and performance of the vaccines or the medicines," he said.

His assertion mirrored previous comments by Dr. Anthony Fauci, a top immunologist, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and member of the White House coronavirus task force.

In an interview on CNN's The Axe Files, Fauci said: "Understandably people are concerned, but safety is not being compromised."