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Trump touts coronavirus vaccine development at biotech plant in North Carolina


President Donald Trump visited North Carolina Monday to tour Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ plant, which is currently manufacturing a coronavirus vaccine that is being developed by Novavax.

“We will achieve a victory over the virus by unleashing America’s scientific genius, which is what it is. I’m therefore proud to announce that this morning, the Moderna vaccine has officially entered phase 3,” the president said before touring the facility. “Four additional promising candidates are expected to enter final trials in the coming weeks, including the Novavax vaccine being developed right here at this facility.”

Earlier this month, the Trump administration announced a $1.6 billion deal to produce 100 million of Novavax’s vaccines.

The federal government’s agreement with Novavax is part of the Trump administration’s $10 billion Operation Warp Speed, which aims to get 300 million safe and effective vaccines to the American people by January 2021.

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“Under 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 said Monday.

The funds from this program will be used to mass-produce vaccines from several different companies so that whichever is approved first will be immediately available. The Trump administration has also announced deals with other companies, including Johnson & Johnson, AstraZenca and Moderna.

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Modern’s phase 3 clinical trial, which started Monday, will involve 30,000 adults.

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“Having a safe and effective vaccine distributed by the end of 2020 is a stretch goal, but it’s the right goal for the American people,” National Institutes of Health Director Francis S. Collins said in a statement Monday. “The launch of this Phase 3 trial in record time while maintaining the most stringent safety measures demonstrates American ingenuity at its best and what can be done when stakeholders come together with unassailable objectivity toward a common goal.”

The president also announced Monday that the government struck another $265 million deal with Fujifilm’s Texas A&M Innovation Center in College Station, Texas.

“These same manufacturing processes are being conducted on an even larger scale in College Station, Texas,” Trump said. “Today, I’m proud to announce that HHS has just signed a $265 million contract with the Fujifilm Texas A&M Innovation Center, which is quite the place, to dramatically expand their vaccine manufacturing capacity.”

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With the election less than 100 days away, Axios reported Sunday that Trump’s advisers and GOP officials are urging the president to shift his focus to the development of vaccines and therapeutics.

Meanwhile, Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden criticized Trump today and asked him to commit to “principles of integrity in the development of a vaccine.”

“We all hope the next phases of clinical trials will yield positive results to support an approval based on the scientific evidence, but the development of a new vaccine requires a dedication to science, coordination, transparency, truth, and fairness to all — and we have a President who stands for none of these things,” the former vice president said in a statement.

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