In this photo from the University of Maryland School of Medicine on May 4, 2020, the first patient to participate in Pfizer's COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine clinical trial at the School of Medicine at the University of Maryland in Baltimore is receiving an injection.
University of Maryland Medical School AP
Health officials and drug makers expect to produce potential coronavirus vaccine doses late this summer, a senior government official said on Monday.
The U.S. is aiming to deliver 300 million doses of a Covid-19 vaccine by early 2021. The manufacturing process is already underway, although they're not sure which vaccine will work, a senior Trump administration official told reporters a conference call Monday. He said they are already buying equipment, securing the manufacturing facilities, and in some cases sourcing the raw materials.
"When exactly will the vaccines be made and made? There are probably four to six weeks left," said the official at the conference call held by the Ministry of Health and Human Services. "But we will actively produce until the end of summer."
Because of the pandemic, U.S. health agencies and researchers have accelerated the development of vaccine candidates by investing in multiple stages of research, although it may be free if the vaccine is ultimately ineffective or safe.
US health officials have previously stated that they will speed up the manufacturing process to ensure that once they identify one that works, they can launch a vaccine immediately.
The Trump administration has selected four potential vaccines as the most likely candidates, but the senior official said Monday that this list could grow. The list includes vaccines from the biotech companies Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The two companies are expected to begin late human trials for potential vaccines later this month. It's a record-breaking timeframe to make a vaccine – even though scientists say there is no guarantee that the vaccines will work.
President Donald Trump has repeatedly touted the "tremendous progress" in vaccine development and called it the "Operation Warp Speed" project as coronavirus cases continue to increase in the United States.
The U.S. reported more than 3.3 million Covid-19 cases and at least 135,205 deaths on Monday, according to Johns Hopkins University. According to CNBC's analysis of the data, cases grew 5% or more on Sunday in 37 states and also in Washington, DC. New cases reached a record daily average of 59,100 on Sunday, a seven-day average that compensates for fluctuations in daily reporting gaps.
Many U.S. and state officials have criticized Trump and the government, saying they lack a strong, coordinated response.
The Trump administration said last month that the vaccine would be made available free of charge to Americans who cannot afford it.
Scientists are still learning important aspects of the virus, including how the immune system responds when a person is exposed. The answers could have important implications for vaccine development, including how quickly they can be made available to the public.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the Trump Coronavirus Task Force, said he was concerned about the "shelf life" of a potential vaccine and said there was a possibility that it might not offer long-term immunity.
If Covid-19 behaves like other coronaviruses, "there will likely be no long duration of immunity," Fauci said during an interview on June 2 with JAMA editor Howard Bauchner.