South Court Auditorium
Eisenhower Executive Office Building
5:16 P.M. EST
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you all very much. Paul, thank you for those kind words and for your tireless work at Health and Human Services. To Secretary Azar — really, our host for the day — we thank you for your extraordinary leadership and your — I think he deserves a round of applause. Secretary Alex Azar. (Applause.) We’ve been shoulder to shoulder for 10 months in all of this, and the President and I couldn’t be more grateful for the entire team at HHS and all of the people that you’ve heard from today.I especially want to express my appreciation to Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis, Governor Lee, and Governor Edwards. I hope, in that panel that you just heard, you understood that was just a sampling of a seamless partnership that we have forged with states across the country to put the health of America first. And, Governors, we’re truly grateful. We’re truly grateful. (Applause.)
To other members of the Cabinet who are with us today, members of Congress, to mayors and state and local officials, especially health officials from around the country: Thank you. Thank you for your role in bringing us to the precipice of a breakthrough in American medicine and in the life and health of the American people. We are literally days away from the fulfillment of the vision of Operation Warp Speed, and I want to thank you for participating. And I want to thank all of you who’ve looked on from afar to take in this vaccine summit.
As you heard today over the last several hours, thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump; the tireless efforts of health officials at the federal level and at the state level around the country; the ingenuity of great research companies, military personnel, our private sector partners; and the cooperation of the American people, we are literally, we believe, in all likelihood, just a few days away from the approval and distribution of the first coronavirus vaccine in America. That is warp speed. (Applause.)
From the first day the President stood up the White House Coronavirus Task Force and asked us to lead it, we had one mission, and that is to save American lives. And I believe the advance that we’re about to fulfill and to begin to move out on will continue that mission apace and put us one day closer to the day we put the coronavirus in the past.
But before I reflect on all that we’ve heard today and the extraordinary professionalism and cooperation that you’ve witnessed, I want to extend my sympathies to the families that may be looking on at this very hour — families that have lost loved ones over the course of this year. Even as we enter a time of great promise in this country, I want families that have lost loved ones and those that are still struggling in the midst of this pandemic to know there’s not a day gone by that you haven’t been on the hearts of all of us working at every level, and we will never forget your families or your loved ones as we hasten the day that we put this pandemic in the past.
Because of the efforts of all of those you’ve heard from today and, frankly, countless others, we literally are on track to distribute tens of millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine before the end of this month.
We’re about to make history. And together, we’re going to continue to save lives across this country with the approval of the first coronavirus vaccine. We believe it is likely within days. As I said, we are one step closer to the day that, as a people, we will put this pandemic in the past and, as the President said from this very podium today, that America will continue to do our part to help families and peoples around the world.
From the very beginning, I hope it is evident to all of you that President Trump’s vision to our nation’s response was not just a whole-of-government approach, but it’s been a whole-of-America approach, meeting all of the challenges that we faced from early on. We reinvented testing, we saw to the delivery of billions of medical supplies and equipment, we developed new medicines and therapeutics, and now just days away from the approval and distribution of millions of doses of this vaccine.
I must tell you, having been working every single day over the last 10 months toward this objective: As an American, as your Vice President, as the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, I’m humbled and I’m very grateful for what the American people have accomplished. I’m grateful for the leadership of our President, the tireless efforts of all the health officials that have worked every step of the way. I’m — I’m grateful for the ingenuity of the great research companies all across this great nation and for the compassion of our people.
After today’s summit, I suspect more people than ever around the country will look at the progress that we are about to fulfill in Operation Warp Speed, and they will say, as I have said before, “Only in America.” (Applause.)
We are honored to have all of you to participate — and all of you looking on — to participate in this vaccine summit. The President wanted to convene this gathering to inform the American people of the progress that we’ve made in Operation Warp Speed, but also to give credit where credit is due. Operation Warp Speed is a modern American miracle, but it’s an accomplishment of all of the American people.
It’s amazing to think that the average development timeline for a vaccine can take 8 to 12 years. But as you heard today, we’re on track to accomplish a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine in 8 to 12 months.
Before Operation Warp Speed, the fastest prior vaccine development in the United States took over four years. But as the President said earlier today, we’ve developed a gold standard vaccine in just nine months. Only in America. (Applause.)
And the dates speak for themselves. January 10th, we reserved — we received the first sequence of the coronavirus vaccine. Literally the next day, scientists went to work with private research companies and the National Institute of Health to begin to develop a vaccine. Within six weeks, which was also record time, we were already in phase one clinical trials. And with the support of many of the members of Congress that you saw here today, we — we were able to secure some $10 billion to develop a vaccine.
But it would be in May of this year that the President launched Operation Warp Speed that you have heard in great detail today. The President said then that they were looking to get a vaccine by the end of the year. But in August, President Trump made a promise. He actually said, and I quote, “We will have a safe and effective vaccine this year.” And here we are.
The President’s promise was met with considerable skepticism not only in the scientific community, but across the public debate. But as we stand here today and we celebrate what we believe is the likely approval of two safe and effective coronavirus vaccines, the American people deserve to know that there are actually four vaccine candidates in large, phase three clinical trials as we speak.
Operation Warp Speed, we believe, is about to commence, it’s about to save lives, and it will continue to expand, to the benefit of the American people and the world. (Applause.)
We’re moving at record speed, but the American people can be confident that while — while we have cut red tape, we’ve cut no corners; and our standards for safety and effectiveness are just as rigorous as they have ever been. And the American people can be encouraged — those that will have opportunities in this initial phase to take the vaccine can be confident that the approval has ensured that this vaccine is not just effective, but is safe.
And as you heard today as well, beyond the development of this extraordinary American medical miracle, that once the vaccine is approved, we are in a position, with the great work of General Perna and the American military and our private sector partners, to literally ship millions of doses across the country within 24 hours.
But ultimately, the distri- — the decision about where the vaccines are distributed is up to governors. And that’s why the final panel today was so important. It’s important for the American people to know that from very early on, we have operated against the philosophy that this is a — this is a national response to this pandemic that is federally supported but state managed and locally executed. And we’ve deferred, in this instance, as we have throughout this pandemic, to the judgment of governors all across the nation — the states and the territories of this country — who are best equipped to know the point of the need in their state. And how about another round of applause for the governors that you heard from today? We’re truly grateful. (Applause.)
Operation Warp Speed, like all the we have done, has not just been a whole-of-government approach at every level, but it is, as I said, a whole-of-America approach. And you — you heard today from some of the nation’s top logistics and shipping companies — one of which I witnessed firsthand visiting Governor Lee’s great state of Tennessee last week, at the headquarters of FedEx.
But FedEx, UPS, and McKesson are going to serve as a critical link getting the vaccine to the point of the need. And what’s important for the American people to understand is — is that we’re not reinventing the wheel here. These are companies that — that have already, in the past, particularly in McKesson’s case, been involved in distributing millions of vaccines across America. We’re just building a bigger wheel, but building on top of the experience that we have.
So how about a big round of applause for those great logistics companies that are about to partner for the health of the American people? (Applause.)
As you also heard, we’ve called on companies like CVS and Walgreens to be able to deliver and administer vaccines. And we actually — it’s remarkable. I heard this at the White House Coronavirus Task Force just this past week: We are in a position — because of these great American companies and retailers, we’re in a position to administer vaccines to 99 percent of America’s nursing homes onsite, free of charge, the moment the vaccines arrive. (Applause.) Only in America.
But Warp Speed — I want to say, as I close — is really just emblematic of — of the approach that President Trump took from very early on in the midst of this pandemic. We launched the greatest national mobilization since World War Two. We’ve reinvented testing from a standing start.
It’s amazing to think: When I was tapped to lead the White House Coronavirus Task Force, we’d done less than 10,000 coronavirus tests in America. Today, we do roughly 2 million a day and have done more than 200 million coronavirus tests, giving us greater visibility on the impact of the pandemic and — and those who are in harm’s way.
We marshalled the full power of the American economy early on, not just in this project, but in the development of PPE and equipment. We literally saw to the manufacture and delivery of billions of medical supplies.
And while we see cases rising and hospitalization rising across the country, with our team on the ground here working closely with governors, we literally are able to track hospital capacity on a hospital-by-hospital basis, and we’re going to continue to work around the clock to make sure our hospitals and our healthcare workers have the PPE and supplies they need to give any American family the same level of care that we’d want a member of our family to have. (Applause.)
The story of therapeutics is also an extraordinary one. I remember, in early March, when we gathered all the great research companies together in the Cabinet Room and the President challenged each and every one of them not only to go to work on a vaccine, but to go to work on the development of medicines — therapeutics that would give people relief who were impacted by the coronavirus.
And as we stand here today, the FDA has literally approved dozens and dozens of lifesaving therapeutics. And I’m actually told that we’ve already delivered 185,000 doses of therapeutics to coronavirus patients across America. It’s extraordinary. (Applause.)
And the truth is, even as we see cases rising around the country and hospitalizations rising, I want the American people to know that we’ve never been better prepared to combat the coronavirus than we are today. This is a time of great promise and hope for the American people.
But, that being said, with the rising cases across America, it’s also a time of renewed vigilance. As we close today what is, I know, for all of us gathered here and all of those looking on, a time of great promise, a time of great encouragement, the American people should know that we all still have work to do — that every single one of us has a role to play. With cases rising and hospitalizations rising in virtually every jurisdiction around America, it’s time once again to redouble our efforts to put the health of our families, our neighbors, and our communities first.
And we all know what to do. The American people demonstrated, in the early days of March and April, that we know how to slow the spread. We know how to flatten the curve. We know how to save lives. Practice good hygiene. Wash your hands. Practice social distancing or wear a mask when it’s not possible or whenever local authorities indicate that it’s appropriate. It’s the way that we got through the early days of this pandemic and we flattened the curve, saved lives. It’s the way we got through the Sun Belt outbreak. And it’s the way we’ll see our way through the — the months ahead between now and when the coronavirus vaccine that will likely be approved this week will be widely available for every American.
The President often says — and it’s more obvious today than maybe ever before — we are rounding the corner. We can see the light at the end of the tunnel. But to reach the end of the tunnel and to save American lives, we just need to redouble our efforts. We have a ways to go, America.
So I just want to encourage you all to be patient in the days ahead. My wife and I ran a marathon — about 10 years ago. (Laughter.) And the records in that marathon were all intact when we finished. And I will tell you, they told us, when we were running, that the last five miles of a marathon are the toughest. You come around that corner and — after the 21st mile — and you’re absolutely convinced that you never felt better in your life. You can see the finish line, and then your legs start to tighten up.
You know, the truth of the matter is, we’ve been running a marathon in this country, haven’t we? But I want the American people know the finish line is around the corner. We could see it from here. And by — by the spring, we anticipate — or shortly thereafter — we’ll have a — what we believe will be multiple safe and effective coronavirus vaccines for every American that wants one.
But we got to get there. And so I want to encourage you from the bottom of my heart to continue to be diligent to put your health, your family’s health, and your community’s health first.
I can’t help but think of that ancient verse that says, “Do not grow weary in well doing, for, in the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Now’s the time for us to stay focused, be encouraged. Because the extraordinary innovation, the dedication of health officials at every level, these great research companies, our extraordinary private partners — we are literally on the cusp of putting the coronavirus in the past.
We are coming very close in the days ahead, I believe, to the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic in America. But it — but it will yet be months to go. We have miles to go before we sleep. And so we encourage you all to continue to do your part.
But I have every confidence that with the dedication of all the officials represented here so well at every level; with programs like Operation Warp Speed; with the dedication of our healthcare workers and our first responders, of researchers around the country; and with the cooperation of the American people, we’ll get through this. I have every confidence. I have faith that with your help and with God’s grace, we will heal our land, and we will heal our land together.
Thank you all very much. Thank you for being a part of this important summit. And God bless you all. (Applause.)
END 5:34 P.M. EST