Trump wants a coronavirus vaccine already and imagines Jared Kushner can deliver it at ‘warp speed’

Trump wants a coronavirus vaccine already and imagines Jared Kushner can deliver it at ‘warp speed’

The Daily Beast reports:

Already under fire for his role atop a shadow task force aiding the administration’s response to the coronavirus, senior White House aide Jared Kushner is now being handed another critical job: helping get a vaccine for the disease developed in record time.

President Donald Trump, who has said he believes a COVID-19 vaccine will be available by the end of the year, is turning to his son-in-law to help streamline the effort, branded, “Operation Warp Speed.” Kushner is working alongside White House senior adviser Peter Navarro, who pitched the operation via memo to the president’s coronavirus task force as early as this February.

The hope inside the White House is that Kushner will be able to use his relationships in the private sector to speed up the normally lengthy development process, two sources familiar with Kushner’s involvement say.

“Jared has been vocal in meetings about wanting to engage the private sector on the development of a vaccine in a similarly successful way that the administration did on ventilators, PPE, and others,” a White House official said on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, The Washington Post published a story citing an official complaint lodged by a task force volunteer with the House Oversight Committee, alleging that Kushner’s operation has been hobbled by employing amateurish private-sector volunteers who were ill-suited for their vital assignments. The complaint alleged that the group responsible for acquiring PPE lacked backgrounds in health-care or supply-chain matters, had negligible success in their efforts, and were pressed to prioritize requests from VIPs in conservative media.

Over the last several weeks, members working with Trump’s coronavirus task force have pushed back against the idea that a reliable vaccine—even with Kushner’s help—would be ready for the American public before well into next year.

“We just do not see it happening [that soon],” said a senior Trump administration official who works closely with the coronavirus task force.

The administration publicly acknowledged Operation Warp Speed last week. But it has offered few details about how exactly it plans to speed the development process beyond reports that it will pool resources, bringing in private companies and the Pentagon, to more quickly test the vaccine on animals and then on humans in clinical trials.

“President Trump made it clear to the task force weeks ago that business as usual wasn’t good enough in the fight against the coronavirus, and vaccines are no exception” Michael Caputo, assistant secretary of public affairs at HHS, told The Daily Beast in a statement Tuesday night. “It’s not impossible and yet the scientists are right: it’s going to be very difficult… When it happens, it will be an historic victory for all of America, led by a president who just wouldn’t take no for an answer when it mattered most. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what President Trump’s critics really dislike about it.”

The lack of operational details, along with Kushner’s involvement, suggests that the Trump administration may once again find itself in a place where it is overpromising the public in its fight against the coronavirus. [Continue reading…]

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