President Trump on COVID-19 Vaccines, Testing, Therapeutics & More from North Carolina

Morrisville, North Carolina…Thank you very much. Great to be in this wonderful state. So many friends, so much success, and we love being here. And we’re here, actually, today to discuss the exciting progress that we’ve achieved under the Operation Warp Speed — our historic initiative to develop, test, manufacture, and deliver a vaccine in record time. And that’s what it is, in record time. Likewise, therapeutically, we are very, very advanced. You’re hearing about it and you’ll be hearing about it a lot more in the next two weeks. We will achieve a victory over the virus by unleashing America’s scientific genius, which is what it is.

I’m therefore proud to announce that this morning, the Moderna vaccine has officially entered phase three already. And that’s phase three clinical trials: the final stage before approval. There’s never been anything like this, in terms of speed — nothing even close. A second vaccine is likely to enter phase three in a matter of days. Under Operation Warp Speed, we’ve shaved years off of 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. This is the fastest a vaccine for a novel pathogen has ever gone. It has never gone like this. And if you look at where we are, by phase three, we could say “ever gone by far.”

Four additional promising candidates are expected to enter final trials in the coming weeks, including the Novavax vaccine being developed right here at this facility. It’s an incredible facility. We’re going to be making a tour in a little while — a very, very complete tour — with the folks that run it and the people that operate.

We’ve just completed a tour of Fujifilm’s innovation laboratories — and that’s going to be done at a much, much higher level in a few minutes after I’m finished, and I believe we’ll take a few questions too — which were carrying out a crucial biomanufacturing process needed to make the Novavax vaccine. This production is made possible by my administration’s $1.6 billion award to Novavax as part of Operation Warp Speed. It lets us deliver the final product in a time that never has been achieved anywhere, at any time, for anything like this.

These same manufacturing processes are being conducted on an even larger scale in College Station, Texas. Today, I’m proud to announce that HHS has just signed a $265 million contract with the Fujifilm-Texas A&M Innovation Center, which is quite the place, to dramatically expand their vaccine manufacturing capacity. I want to thank Fujifilm CEO Martin Meeson for welcoming us today. And Martin — where is, Martin? Thank you. Thank you very much, Martin. It’s really wonderful to be with you under these circumstances in particular, with all the progress that’s being made. As well as Novavax CEO, Stanley Erck. Stanley, thank you very much. Thank you very much for being here.

Thanks also to Secretary Alex Azar, who is with us; Senator Thom Tillis, thank you very much. Thank you, Thom. Stand up, Thom. Good job you’ve done. Thank you very much. You really have. Representatives Richard Hudson, David Rouzer, Mark Walker, Dan Bishop, and Greg Murphey, thank you. All friends. All warriors. Lieutenant Governor Dan Forest, who I hear is doing a great job — where is Dan? Stand up, Dan. Great job, Dan. Really good. North Carolina House Speaker Tim Moore — thank you, Tim. Great job. And President pro tem of the North Carolina State Senate, Phil Berger. Thank you, Phil, very much. I appreciate it.

Operation Warp Speed is funding a historic portfolio of highly promising vaccine candidates. In addition to our $1.6 billion investment in Novavax, we’ve issued a $483 million contract with Moderna, a $1.2 billion contract with AstraZeneca, a $465 million contract with Janssen, and just last week, a $1.95 billion agreement with Pfizer. Tremendous progress is being made with all of those great companies.

A groundbreaking agreement with Pfizer includes a guarantee to deliver 100 million doses shortly after the vaccine’s approval — almost immediately — with the option to purchase an additional 500 million thereafter. Not only is Operation Warp Speed accelerating the development of a vaccine, we’re also directing a colossal industrial mobilization to ensure its rapid delivery. Nothing has happened like this since the end of World War Two.

Instead of the usual sequence of vaccine development, testing and trials, followed by production, our strategy is to conduct these phases simultaneously. So everything goes at one time. We’re not waiting and waiting and waiting; it’s all going at one time. We have a system that has — I think it’s unparalleled. Never been done before, but we suspect it’s going to work, and work very well.

We’re mass producing all of the most promising vaccine candidates in advance so that on the day one that it’s approved, it’ll be available to the American people immediately. And we’ll probably have a lot for a lot of other people throughout the world. The world is suffering from this China virus.

Another dimension of Operation Warp Speed is our focus on therapeutics to treat the virus. Over 140 clinical trials are underway, and a number of effective therapies have already been developed and widely delivered, including remdesivir, which is having a tremendous impact — you see that with mortality rates and other things, statistically — dexamethasone, convalescent plasma, and antibody treatments. We have numerous treatments right now that are under study, and I think over the next couple of weeks, we may actually have some very positive answers as to that.

On July 7th, we announced a $450 million agreement with Regeneron to begin advanced manufacturing of its antibody treatment, which is currently in late-stage clinical trials. Late stage.

Due to the medical advances we’ve already achieved and our increased knowledge in how to treat the virus, the mortality rate for patients over the age of 18 is 85 percent lower than it was in April — think of that: 85 percent — and is 25 percent lower than Europe as a whole.

In the middle of April, more than 22 percent of all deaths in the United States were attributable to the China virus. As the last week, that number has dropped down — as of last week, it’s dropped down to under 7 percent.

To decrease the turnaround times for testing, the first two laboratories have been approved to provide pooled testing — very important. In other words, samples from multiple patients are processed together. They’re pooled. Now, pool testing will reduce turnaround times by more than — substantially more than 50 percent.

Last week, our Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services began distributing rapid point-of-care diagnostic test instruments to all of the nursing homes in the United States, focusing on the areas of greatest need, which is our elderly and our nursing homes.

What we’ve already sent includes testing instruments to 635 nursing homes for 196,000 rapid point-of-care tests. It’s a tremendous amount. That’s — you’ll get your response and answer from 5 to 15 minutes.

Over the next three weeks, 1,700 nursing homes will receive an additional 800,000 point-of-care tests. Think of that. The United States has conducted over 52 million tests. That’s more than all of Europe put together, times two. Nobody is even close. And as countries go, it is — as an example, India is up to 11 million tests. We’re going to be very shortly at 55 million tests. India has 1.4 billion people.

Through our relentless efforts, we’ve completely rebuilt our stockpile, which the previous administration depleted and did not refill. The cupboards were bare. I say it often. In total, we’ve now distributed nearly 100 million N95 masks, 35 million surgical masks, 15 million face shields, and much, much more. In addition to that, ventilators, the most difficult thing of all, we are now building thousands a month, and we’re distributing them — we have all we need in our country, but to other countries that are in desperate need. Other countries are having a tremendously difficult time with the virus.

Last week, FEMA sent additional personal protective equipment to over 15,000 nursing homes, including 643,000 pairs of protective eyewear, 7 million masks, 34 million pairs of gloves, and 6 million gowns. It’s a lot.

Over the weekend, cases in Florida, Texas, and Arizona held steady and are now heading down. In Arizona, they’re heading very substantially down, and rapidly. We’ve been constant — and in constant communication with the states, and are surging them resources when requested. They largely had what they needed, but anything they need, we send them immediately. We are totally full, we have everything we need, we get it to the states immediately, we deal with the governors. The relationship with the governors has been very good.

These states are not out of the woods, but rigorous compliance with guidelines should allow them to turn the corner, and very, very quickly. We are working with every governor and health commissioner across the country to bring a complete, individualized analysis to each state, as well as tailored recommendations. States are different.

My administration is also closely monitoring the surging caseload in Latin America, which is now the region in the world with the most active reported infections, by far. Due to the relative scarcity of testing in Latin America, however, the region’s reported number of cases is also likely to be dramatically undercut or undercounted. And I can say that’s probably true throughout the entire world. We report our cases; most of the world doesn’t. They either don’t do testing, therefore they have very few cases, even though people are sick, or they just don’t report it.

Given the reality of what we just said, we’re focusing aggressively on the Texas border and countries that we think have to be watched very, very carefully, because you have some very, very highly infected countries outside of our borders.

I’ve spoken with Governor Abbott — terrific gentleman — and I can report that over 3,300 federal personnel are on the ground in Texas. We’ve given them a tremendous amount of extra help, including doctors, nurses, frontline people. We’ve supplied Texas with more than 2.5 million gloves, 800,000 goggles, 337,000 surgical gowns, 1.8 million surgical masks, 1.36 million N95 respirators, and half a million KN90 masks.

Beginning this week, Texas hospitals will receive 500 cases of remdesivir, which has proven very effective, enough to treat 3,200 patients.

In addition to the cross-border spread, this stage of the pandemic is being fueled by younger Americans who generally have little risk of being seriously harmed by the disease but can spread the disease. We need all Americans to be conscious about their actions and to exercise extreme vigilance.

I trust all Americans to do the right thing, but we strongly advise everyone to especially, especially focus on maintaining a social distance, maintaining rigorous hygiene, avoid large gatherings and crowded indoor bars, and wear masks when appropriate.

We also strongly urge citizens to take extra precautions to shield those at highest risk, which are, in most cases, in many cases, the elderly — especially the elderly with medical problems, such as heart or diabetes. But you want to shield them and you want to guard them and you want to protect them from the virus especially — especially those that are really targeted — almost targeted, you could say, by this horrible, horrible plague, this horrible epidemic, pandemic.

America will develop a vaccine very soon, and we will defeat the virus. We will have it delivered in record time. As our visit here demonstrates — and I want to thank all of the people and representatives from the great state of North Carolina. This is a great — this is a great place. It’s a phenomenal place. And we’ve had so many great meetings and such a great time.

I want to drive the — the drive and tenacity of your representatives and your politicians has been incredible. When they call them there, when they call — most of them, many of them are sitting here right now — I will always answer their call.

So thank you very much. I appreciate you being here with us. And let’s get on to a few questions. Tremendous progress has been made, and it’s been made rapidly and it’s been made in areas that nothing like that has taken place before.

So, please. Thank you very much. (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you.

Q There’s been a lot of despair when it comes to the virus. Is today’s event about giving Americans hope, a sense of optimism? Is that what you’re trying to do?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I think — I think so. But, you know, there would be not that same kind of hope if we weren’t doing so well.

We’re — you know, before — just before I left the White House, in the Oval Office, we had a meeting with our doctors, scientists, some others, and they’re making tremendous prog- — progress with respect to therapeutics. I can tell you, therapeutically, I think over the next couple of weeks, we’ll have some, really, very good things to say. We’re just having great answers.

So it is about that, and it’s also the vaccine that we discussed today at even greater length is just coming along really well. And it’s not just one company; it’s many companies have had tremendous progress. So that’ll be announced over the next very short period.

Q When is the soonest you expect a vaccine to be ready for Americans to take?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I heard very positive things, but by the end of the year, we think we’re in very good shape to be doing that. By the end of this year, we’re going to — in terms of the vaccine. I think in terms of therapeutics, even sooner than that. Therapeutics, meaning, you go and you give somebody, whether it’s transfusion or shots or whatever it may be, and they heal, and they heal quickly.

So we’ve had tremendous progress. We already have, if you look at remdesivir and if you look at some of the other things. But we’ll have — we’ll have some announcements on that over the next two weeks.

Yeah, it — it is hope, but it’s only hope because we’ve gotten such incredible results, scientifically.

Q And one final question, sir.


Q You did talk with Russian President Vladimir Putin. And I wanted to ask if you did bring up the reports of Russia having bounties on our soldiers in Afghanistan.

THE PRESIDENT: We don’t talk about what we discussed, but we had plenty of discussion, and I think it was very productive.


Q Thank you, Mr. President. Larry Kudlow, earlier today, said that the V-shaped recovery is showing signs of moderating. Do you think, given what we’re seeing with the increase in cases, that the recovery could be in jeopardy at all — the economic recovery?

THE PRESIDENT: I don’t think so. I think the recovery has been very strong. We’ve set record job numbers. We’ve set record numbers. Whether it’s a pure “V” or a little bit less than that, I think it’s going to be very good.

If, therapeutically, we come up with some answers very quickly, which I think we will, then you’re going to have a tremendous recovery — likewise, with the vaccines. If you do that by the end of the year, that’s ahead of schedule — substantially ahead of schedule. And it’s ahead of anything that’s ever taken place, in terms of vaccines, before.

So I think if those things happen — if just one of those events happen, you’ll go right back into that “V,” and I think you’re probably in the “V” anyway.

I really do believe a lot of the governors should be opening up states that they’re not opening, and we’ll see what happens with them. But a lot will have to do with the fact that, therapeutically, I think you’re going to have some great answers — vaccine-wise, likewise.

Yeah, please. Go ahead, in the back.

Q Zachery Eanes from the Raleigh News & Observer. Now that you’ve canceled the Jacksonville portion of the RNC, do you think Governor Cooper made the right choice in limiting attendance in Charlotte?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, we’re actually coming to North Carolina, as you know. We’re having a very major — I guess that would be the nomination night, so that’s Monday. That’ll be Monday — they’re going to be here. And the rest we’ll do in a different form. We could’ve done it many different ways, but I think we did the right thing. And I’m really happy that we’re going to be having a piece of it at least — and a very important piece — in North Carolina.

Yes, please. Go ahead.

Q Mr. President, your poll numbers suffered in recent months because of your handling on the pandemic. You’re here now today. What’s your plan, going forward, to prove to Americans that you’re the right person for this job?

THE PRESIDENT: I think the poll numbers are very good. The poll numbers we have are very good. We’re leading in North Carolina. We’re leading in Pennsylvania. We’re leading in Arizona — our numbers. We’re leading in Arizona. We’re leading nicely in Florida. I think our poll numbers are very good. We’re leading substantially in Georgia.

I mean, we get a lot of suppression polls. We get a lot of fake polls, just like we have fake news. I mean, it’s a terrible thing when you look at it.

But I had the same thing four years ago. I was losing everywhere. I had poll numbers where I wasn’t going to win any state, and I ended up winning every one of them — you know, the swing states. I wasn’t going to win any of them, and I won all of them. And I have the same thing this year. This year, they have it even closer. They have it closer, but it’s the same suppression-type polls. We have polls that show me leading in almost every swing state, and substantially in other states, by even more than I won in ’16.

When you look at Florida, as an example, you have thousands of boat out on — boats out in the ocean, out in the Intracoastal. You look at other states where, likewise, you have thousands of boats, and they’re all waving the Trump sign — Trump-Pence sign — and they’re so proud. Thousands and thousands. You’ve seen it — where you have Bikers for Trump with lines that are miles long on highways going along on weekends.

I think there’s more spirit now than there’s ever been for my campaign, and that includes 2016, where obviously there was great enthusiasm, great spirit. We had great spirit. I think there’s more today because what we’ve done, nobody has ever done before. Nobody has ever rebuilt the military, cut taxes — the most in our history — created the greatest economy we’ve ever had, cut regulations at a level that nobody has ever done, and all of these different things.

The VA — we got VA Choice. We got VA everything for the VA. Right now they had a 91 percent approval rating at — in a recent poll. I was just speaking to the Secretary — 91 percent in the VA. That’s never happened before.

I think when people see all that we’ve done — even Space Force. We created a Sp- — a force, an actual — you know, Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines. Right? It’s — it’s pretty amazing. Coast Guard. And now, Space Force — that hasn’t happened in 75 years. What we’ve done — working with some of those warriors over there, by the way — but what we’ve done has never been done.

If you look at Alaska with ANWR, one of the bil- — perhaps the biggest drilling site in the world. Even Ronald Reagan and Bush and Clinton — everybody wanted to get it done; I got it done — ANWR in Alaska. Probably or possibly the biggest drilling site in the world. No, what we’ve done has been incredible.

Recently, it looked like the energy business was going to be a catastrophe. We were number one in the world, and then we had the pandemic, and nobody was using energy. Nobody was driving in automobiles, no gasoline. And by the way, gasoline prices for everyone are very, very low — in many cases, less than $2. That’s pretty incredible.

And I saved the energy business. I got Russia and I got Saudi Arabia on the phone, and they cut way back. And we’re now at $40-and-plus a barrel. And we’re saving tens of millions of jobs in energy. We’re the number-one in energy in the world.

So with all that we’ve done, we made and brought this country to the greatest point in its history. We never had an economy like we had prior to the China plague or China virus coming in. We never had numbers like it. We are going to have them again. And everyone knows I’m going to rebuild it. I had to close it up. We saved millions of lives by closing it. If we didn’t close it, you would have seen numbers that would have been 15 times what you have right now. One death is too much, but it would’ve been 10 to 15 times, maybe more, than that — what you have.

We closed this greatest economy ever — far bigger than China, better than China. China was having, by the way, the worst year they had in 67 years. Tariffs — they paid us tens of billions of dollars. The worst year they’ve had — think of it — in 67 years. We were having the best year we’ve ever had.

I had to close it, and now we’re reopening it. And next year, we’ll be stronger. It’ll be the strongest year so far. It’ll be better, even than last year.

Okay, thank you very much. I’ll be heading back, and I’ll see you back at the White House. Thank you very much. We’re going to take an additional tour of the facility with your great leaders.

Thank you very much to the people of North Carolina. We love being here. Thank you.

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