President Donald Trump said Friday that the U.S. has already produced 2 million coronavirus vaccine doses that are "ready to go" once scientists figure out whether it is safe and effective.
"Tremendous progress is being made on vaccines," Trump said during a Friday morning news conference from the White House. "In fact, we're ready to go in terms of transportation and logistics. We have over 2 million ready to go if it checks out for safety."
White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is involved in U.S. effort to produce a vaccine, declined to comment on Trump's comments later Friday, saying, "I didn't hear him say that."
A White House spokesman referred calls to the Department of Health and Human Services, which redirected calls back to the White House. Neither of them had an immediate answer to Trump's comments.
Trump also said "we're doing incredibly well" on vaccines, adding, "I think you're going to have some very positive surprises and therapeutics likewise we're doing extremely well. Cures, we're doing well."
The Trump administration has selected five companies as the most likely candidates to produce a vaccine for the coronavirus, according to The New York Times. He didn't say Friday which ones have started vaccine production.
The National Institutes of Health has been fast-tracking work with biotech firm Moderna on a potential vaccine to prevent Covid-19. White House health advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci said earlier this week that there are at least four trials of potential vaccines that he is either directly or indirectly involved in. Fauci said that by the beginning of 2021 "we hope to have" a couple million doses.
Because of the pandemic, U.S. health officials and researchers have been accelerating the development of vaccine candidates by investing in multiple stages of research even though doing so could be for naught if the vaccine ends up not being effective or safe.
U.S. officials and scientists are hopeful a vaccine to prevent Covid-19 will be ready in the first half of 2021.
Trump said Friday that U.S. officials "understand the disease now." However, scientists have said they still don't fully understand key aspects of the virus, including how immune systems respond once a person is exposed.
On Tuesday, Fauci said he worries about the "durability" of a potential coronavirus vaccine, saying there's a chance it may not provide long-term immunity.
If Covid-19 acts like other coronaviruses, "it likely isn't going to be a long duration of immunity," Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during an interview with JAMA Editor Howard Bauchner.
"When you look at the history of coronaviruses, the common coronaviruses that cause the common cold, the reports in the literature are that the durability of immunity that's protective ranges from three to six months to almost always less than a year," he said. "That's not a lot of durability and protection."