Coronavirus Update: President Trump Announces 'Operation Warp Speed'
Today president trump officially unveiled his plan to fast track. A Corona virus vaccine. It's called warp speed. That means big and it means fast a massive scientific industrial and logistical endeavor. Unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan project. The president said a former drug company executive and a four star. General will quarterback the new operation. Meanwhile the Corona virus has now killed at least eighty six thousand Americans and it has put thirty six million more out of work even as that devastation grows. The political fight about further economic aid is getting more and more bitter. Democrats have assembled yet another relief package this one with a price tag of three trillion dollars but Senator Mitch. Mcconnell a Republican has slammed it calling it a quote. Left-wing wishlist this week. A speaker published a eighteen hundred page seasonal catalog of left-wing auditees and called it a arenavirus. Really bill all right for more on that political fight and the rush for a vaccine. I'm joined now by. Npr Congressional correspondent. Susan Davis and Health Policy Reporter. Selena Simmons Duffin. Hey to both of you pay their High Alpha all right Selena. Let's start with you. Operation Warp speed. What an aim. Tell us a little more about what this is exactly. This is a project that puts these incredibly ambitious goals for coming out with a working vaccine and treatments and Diagnostics and puts military organization behind them so the two men in charge are monsef slowly formerly of Drugs Company GlaxoSmithKline and US Army General Gusts Purna. It's a nearly ten billion dollar effort and a lot of the focus is on getting a crooner virus vaccine really fast. President trump wants one by the end of the year and he's talking about beginning to manufacturer promising vaccine candidates before they're approved. Here's what trump said about that today. It's risky it's expensive but will be saving massive amounts of time. We'll be saving years if we do this properly. And that's what we're doing another interesting thing to note. The trump administration says it's promising vaccines and treatments created with support from operation seed will be affordable and some amount of it will need to be donated. What our public experts saying about the feasibility of this operation. Especially the timeline that the president laid out well every shut to a few former federal officials who worked on pandemic preparedness and. I heard some skepticism that this is actually going to come into fruition or whether the trump White House was over promising the officials also questioned what corners would have to be cut in order to compress the usual timeline. You WanNa be very sure a vaccine is safe before you start vaccinating. Millions of people and the testing to establish that safety takes time And I should also say that less than a year to develop a vaccine would be way way faster than has ever happened before one piece of historical context. Greg Gonzalez an epidemiologist. A professor at Yale has pointed out the HIV vaccine was supposed to take two years to develop and of course decades later. We still don't have one. Of course this is a different kind of virus. It's a different era. Science has advanced but for a lot of reasons. It's really hard to know if this timeline will be possible. And it's definitely risky to promise that it will happen right. Okay we'll sue turning to you. Democrats have meanwhile put together their own three trillion dollar package which would make it the single largest economic stimulus package ever. How did this bill get to that size well in defending this Legislation House Speaker? Nancy Pelosi all week has been repeatedly pointing to comments from Federal Reserve chairman. Jerome Powell who told Congress to quote. Think big about what it's going to do. In terms of economic stimulus mainly because interest rates are so low right now and I mean Democrats leaned in. They've accepted this. I mean this is as you noted its just a behemoth of a bill. There's never been anything like it about a third of it. A trillion dollars for state and local governments who have seen their budgets decimated because of the healthcare costs of the pandemic. And you know they're doing things like extending some of the really popular stuff. Congress already done. It's got another round of those twelve hundred dollar direct payments and it's the beefing up of employment benefits that extra six hundred dollars a month. They extend that for another six months. Well well both. President Trump and Republican lawmakers are saying that more legislation will be needed to address the pandemic. What they are saying now is just not this bill by Democrats. What exactly is their opposition to this bill. They have a lot of reasons for it. What is just the size and scope of it. There's just real skepticism. Among Republicans that this kind of spending is necessary right now to keep the economy afloat. Republicans also see it as sort of a back door attempt by Democrats to try to forever enact policies that they've wanted to do for years higher. Federal MINIMUM WAGE PAID FAMILY LEAVE STUDENT. Loan debt forgiveness and more support for mail in ballot elections this November the House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy Today said he does expect Congress to pass more corona virus relief measures. But it's just not really clear what Republicans believe is going to be necessary l. Says you know on. Capitol Hill usually pressure point for to get Congress. Act And one thing that people were constantly say to me is the current unemployment benefits run out in late July and if the economy hasn't rebounded by then I think that's when you're going to see real pressure to act right okay. We'll Selena back to you now last night. The Food and Drug Administration warned that Abbott's rapid corona virus tests could be unreliable now. This is the test that apparently has been used on a daily basis on White House officials. So what's been the reaction to all of this today and we should know that Abbott is. Npr THUNDER SO president. Trump was asked about this today and whether this news has raised concerns for him. And here's what he said. It's a great test. It's a very quick test and it can always be very rapidly. Double checked. If you're testing positive or negative it could always be double-checked but it's a very good test very portable very quick so there have been a series of studies on the reliability of this test including one from the Cleveland Clinic that found the false negative rate was about fifteen percent. Another study from New York University found. The false negative rate could be even higher as high as forty eight percent. So what this means for symptomatic people who are trying to figure out if they have covered nineteen or not is if they get an appetite and it's negative and there's good there's a good reason to try to get a different second test if possible to figure out if they really have the current virus or not But for the White House and other workplaces that are trying to use this test to screen people to clear them to be at work this. Fda warning really underscores that the test alone isn't gonNA prevent the corona virus from spreading necessarily workplaces and other group. Settings will still have to do all these. Other things to mitigate the spread cleaning surfaces a lot. Washing your hands for twenty seconds. Staying two part wearing masks because the test is no guarantee that nobody who's at work is and sue really quick. I mean the house I understand is making some history today when it comes to how members can vote for legislation during the pandemic. How will it work yet? Democrats are changing the rules of the House that will now allow for proxy voting. Essentially it would allow one member of Congress to cast votes for other lawmakers if they can't physically be present in the House Chamber Republicans largely oppose it. They're arguing that lawmakers should just get back to work as so many essential workers are on the front line. The rules change will take effect immediately and it will remain in place as long as there's a pandemic all right that's NPR congressional correspondent. Susan Davis and Health Policy Reporter. Selena Simmons Duffin. Thanks to both of you. You're welcome thank you.