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White House optimistic about 'Operation Warp Speed' vaccine search, despite fast-approaching year-end deadline

Some in the science community express doubt about the logistics.

WASHINGTON — Calling it the biggest scientific operation since the Manhattan Project, President Trump announced Operation Warp Speed on Friday.

The aim of the operation is to get a vaccine for the novel coronavirus by the end of the year.

“We'd love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year. We think we're going to have some very good results coming out very quickly,” the President said Friday in the Rose Garden.

RELATED: Trump unveils 'Operation Warp Speed,' predicts COVID-19 vaccine by year end

President Trump named Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the former head of GlaxoSmithKline's vaccines division, to lead the effort alongside four-star Army General Gustave Perna.

Out of about 100 possible vaccines, Mr. Trump said 14 showed promise. Citing unreleased data, Slaoui expressed optimism for the New Year’s deadline.

“And these data made me feel even more confident that we will be able to deliver a few hundred million doses of the vaccine by the end of 2020,” Slaoui said.

RELATED: Large-scale vaccine testing expected by July, NIH director says

But some in the science community express doubt about the fast-approaching deadline. Instead, saying 12 to 18 months is more realistic.

“That would be a real challenge to have a vaccine ready for people to take in January,” said Dr. Ted Ross, the Director of the Center for Vaccines and Immunology at UGA. “Normally vaccines take years to develop.”

RELATED: How are vaccines made?

Dr. Ross said there are many unknowns. For example, it’s not clear how much a vaccine would cost to mass-produce or whether one shot alone would be effective.

“Then you have to manufacture this for the entire American population," Ross added. “So three hundred-fifty million Americans would have to have a dose. And if it took two doses, then that would be seven hundred million doses.”

RELATED: Thousands volunteer to be injected with COVID-19 as part of 'human challenge trials' in vaccine hunt

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