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White House picks five coronavirus vaccine candidates for 'Operation Warp Speed' initiative

Lucas Manfredi

The White House has selected five candidates as part of its "Operation Warp Speed" initiative to accelerate the development of a coronavirus vaccine, according to a report by the New York Times.

"There's never been a vaccine project like this anywhere in the world," President Trump said when he announced the program's launch last month. "We'd love to see if we can do it prior to the end of the year. We think we're going to have some very good results coming out very quickly."

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The five companies that have been selected as finalists include Moderna, Astrazeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Merck & Co., and Pfizer.

Moderna's mRNA-1273 is currently in phase 2 of clinical trials with a phase 3 trial set for this summer. If testing goes well, mRNA-1273 could be available by 2021.

Astrazeneca's AZD1222 is currently being tested in studies at Oxford University with up to a billion doses expected later this year.

Johnson & Johnson plans to launch phase 1 clinical trials of their vaccine candidate starting in September and expects up to a billion doses to be available by 2021.

Pfizer is currently in the early phases of clinical trials. The company projects their COVID-19 vaccine candidate could be available for emergency use in the fall.

A clinical trial by Merck & Company has not yet been announced.

Their selection as finalists will give all five companies access to additional government funding to help accelerate the development of their vaccines. Moderna, Astrezeneca, and Johnson & Johnson have already received $2.2 billion in federal funding.

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According to the latest update from Johns Hopkins University, there are more than 1.8 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 106,000 deaths in the United States.

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