Donald Trump has said he is hopeful of having a coronavirus vaccine on the market by the end of the year.
The vaccine hunt is part of what the US president described as a “momentous medical initiative” called Operation Warp Speed.
At an event in the White House Rose Garden, in which many officials wore face masks but the president did not, he announced the project in a speech peppered with promises.
Explaining the name Operation Warp Speed, he said “that means big and it means fast”, adding: “Nobody’s seen anything like we’re doing now within our country since the Second World War. Incredible.”
There are a number of promising trials around the world seeking a vaccination against coronavirus, which has killed more than 300,000 people worldwide and Mr Trump said “we’d love to see if we could do it prior to the end of the year”.
The US government will invest in all the top coronavirusvaccine candidates, and a list has been narrowed to 14 promising potential vaccines with a plan to narrow it further, he said.
He also said that the US was working “very strongly” with other countries, although he did not say which ones, and that those other countries were “viewing us as the leader”.
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He added: “We’ve got countries that are allies… we have some countries, frankly, that aren’t allies where we’re working very closely together.
“We have no ego. Whoever gets it, we think it’s great. We’re going to work with them. They’re going to work with us.”
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Mr Trump, who initially dismissed the seriousness of COVID-19, has faced criticism for his apparent lack of interest in helping co-ordinate a global strategy.
There was no US representative at a virtual meeting of world leaders last week, which aims to raise funds to find a vaccine and clear the way for mass production and distribution.
There are fears that if a vaccine for coronavirus was developed within the US, the president would be unwilling to immediately share it with the rest of the world.
Speaking on the Sky News Daily podcast, Beth Cameron – who led the NSC’s strategy regarding the response to potential pandemics between 2014 and 2017 – said: “Most frustrating to me is that the US isn’t helping to be the leader in the global response.
“We are one of a number of countries that can and should lead during a crisis like this because we have a lot of expertise and the ability to work collaboratively with countries around the world.
“During the Ebola epidemic we really led on that, working with partners like the UK, France, Germany and others, but right now it seems we have really ceded some of that leadership role and are not really at the table.”