MORRISVILLE, N.C. (WNCN) – President Donald Trump promised the United States would defeat COVID-19 in record time Monday. The remarks came Monday as Trump toured a Morrisville facility manufacturing components of a COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
“America will develop a vaccine very soon, and we will defeat the virus in record time,” Trump said.
He arrived at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in RTP around 3:30 p.m. Monday after landing at RDU.
The company’s CEO, Martin Meeson, showed the president around the demonstrations labs. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies’ Innovation Center is manufacturing an antigen for Novavax’ COVID-19 vaccine candidate.
According to Novavax, the production of the first batch of its vaccine is underway at the Morrisville facility. Novavax received $1.6 billion from the federal government as part of Operation Warp Speed.
During the tour Monday, Trump called the facility “incredible” and praised the progress made by companies as part of Operation Warp Speed.
“We’ve shaved years off 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.
The trip to North Carolina highlighted the work by Novavax and four other biotech companies simultaneously developing and manufacturing potential COVID-19 vaccines.
Trump said his administration hopes this strategy will cut down of the time people have to wait for a dose of the vaccine.
“It’s a system that’s never been done before, but we suspect it’s going to work and work well. We’re mass-producing promising vaccines in advance so on day one that it’s approved, it will be available to the American people immediately,” he said.
Meeson said the team at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies has compressed a process that normally takes several months into several weeks.
“We work on medicines every day. Medicines are very impactful on people’s lives. There’s always a sense of urgency and energy when we’re trying to do that, and that has definitely been present in this case,” Meeson said.
Trump announced Monday that Moderna began Phase 3 clinical trials of its coronavirus vaccine candidate. It’s the first COVID-19 vaccine in Phase 3 clinical trials in the United States.
“There’s never been anything like this is terms of speed. Not even close,” said Trump.
Novavax began clinical trials on its vaccine candidate in May in Australia. The company said Phase 2 clinical trials will begin in August.
The batches produced at the facility in RTP will be utilized in Phase 3 clinical trials of up to 30,000 subjects this fall to determine the safety and efficacy of the Novavax vaccine candidate, the company said.
Novavax hopes to deliver 100 million doses of its vaccine beginning as early as late 2020.