NC Biotechnology Center
Durham, North Carolina
3:47 P.M. EDT
THE VICE PRESIDENT: Well, thank you, Dr. Grach. Thank you for the great welcome here. It is — it is an honor to be here with you at the North Carolina Biotech Center and also in Research Triangle Park, which has really been a critical part of the historic effort to stand up both therapeutics as well as to advance our steady march toward a vaccine for the coronavirus.
And I want to thank you for the work in particular that Wake Research has been doing in that regard, not just in the clinical trial, but the role that you’ve played in really ministering to the needs of people. We’re truly grateful for your leadership, and we want to commend your entire team.
We look forward to the discussion today, but it’s great to be here as we mark a milestone in Operation Warp Speed. On Monday of this week, here and all across the country, some 89 different sites, we began the first phase three clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine in the United States of America. And I think the American people deserve to know that thanks to President Trump’s leadership, we literally are moving at a historic pace. And we find ourselves in the midst of a week of hope and a week of promise.
I was deeply moved, just a few moments ago, to have a chance to meet several of the participants in this phase three clinical trial, both of them public servants, not surprisingly: one a school teacher and the other — the other works in emergency management here in North Carolina. And both of them wanted to do their part to help our nation take that steady advance toward a safe and effective vaccine for the American people.
I want to thank both of them, but also, I just want to literally thank the tens of thousands of Americans who have volunteered to be a part of these clinical trials, not just for a vaccine but for therapeutics. You have the thanks of our President, of our White House Coronavirus Task Force, and of a grateful nation. And I know that you have the gratitude of all of those that are managing the research here.
Let me say we’ve — we’re passing through a challenging time in the life of our nation. But thanks to the extraordinary healthcare workers here in North Carolina and around America, and thanks to the cooperation of the people of this great state and this nation, we continue every single day to be one day closer to that day that we’ll put the coronavirus in the past.
We are encouraged, even with rising cases over the last several weeks across the Sun Belt, it’s — it’s encouraging to see trends in the South that demonstrate that the efforts in those states are having a good effect.
But let me just say at the outset that we know we have a ways to go. And while the positivity rate is below 9 percent here in North Carolina — which, again, is a tribute to the people of this state — I just encourage the people of North Carolina to continue to do your part: Wash your hands. Practice personal hygiene. Wear a mask whenever state and local authorities say it’s important or when social distancing isn’t possible.
Just as we did in other parts of the country and we hope we’re beginning to see across the Sun Belt, we know how to slow the spread; we know how to flatten the curve; we know how to protect the vulnerable. And I pledge to you that, at the federal level, we’re going to spare no expense to stay focused on that mission, even while we drive relentlessly toward developing new medicines here in the Research Triangle in North Carolina and ultimately developing a vaccine for the American people.
But as I said, it’s been a historic week in America. Moderna entered their first phase three clinical trial on Monday of this week. I know Wake Research is operating many of the critical — clinical trial sites across the country. Pfizer also announced yesterday that they’re actually combining phase two and phase three clinical trials — 120 sites worldwide, including nearly 40 in the United States with up to 30,000 participants.
And yesterday, President Trump and our administration announced a historic deal with Kodak. It’s all about reshoring our vital industries. Kodak Pharmaceutical was launched. We used the Defense Production Act and the investment of public resources to create a company that will produce as much as 25 percent of all active ingredients needed to make generic drugs in the United States.
You know, when I look at the fact that it was just a matter of weeks after we received the initial coding of the coronavirus in this country that we initiated the research for a vaccine, and 62 days later began clinical trials, and now as we sit here, in this week in July, with phase three clinical trials beginning here in the Research Triangle in North Carolina and all across America, I have to say: Only in America.
What you’re witnessing today is the extraordinary talent and ingenuity of American scientists, of American pharmaceutical industries, and of the American people. What you’re also witnessing though is what’s possible when we’re able to come together and provide the resources to support those efforts.
And I want to take a moment to express appreciation to three great members of Congress — Congressman Mark Walker, Congressman Richard Hudson, and Congressman David Rouzer — who are all with us today. Because of their support, we were able to secure from the Congress of the United States some $10 billion for Operation Warp Speed.
And I think the people of North Carolina deserve to know that while we’re moving at a record pace to develop a new vaccine, under Operation Warp Speed, at the President’s direction and with the support of these members of Congress, we’re also taking another unprecedented step, and that is we’re actually producing vaccines as we speak.
And as you’ll hear in a moment from Dr. Stephen Hahn of the FDA, we’re going to make sure that the vaccines that are developed are safe and effective before they’re ever deployed in this country. There’ll be no corners cut; there’ll be no shortcuts in the development of a safe and effective vaccine.
But the moment that the FDA determines that a vaccine is safe and effective, because of the President’s launch of Operation Warp Speed, we will have tens of millions of doses of a vaccine for the American people.
We’re actually, already, with the support of these members of Congress — we’re using those very same resources to purchase hundreds of millions of syringes to be able to administer vaccines the moment they become available. We truly are moving at warp speed.
And I want to assure the people of North Carolina and the people all across this country that we’re going to continue in our relentless pursuit to support American ingenuity, all of the great research scientists in this country until we reach that day that we have a vaccine that we can safely distribute to the American people and put the coronavirus in the past.
So with that, I want to say thank you again to all the great scientists here. I look forward to our discussion, to hearing the progress. But it truly is a week of hope; it is a week of promise. It is a week when we have begun the first phase three clinical trials for a coronavirus vaccine in the United States of America. And as one of our leading scientists said not long ago, we enter this week with great anticipation.
Dr. Tony Fauci said to our White House Coronavirus Task Force that as he looks at the early results of these — of this and other vaccine trials, he said he believes that it’s not “if,” it’s “when” we’ll have a vaccine available for the American people. And I just want the people of this great state and all across this country to know that — that at President Trump’s leadership and support of all of you here, we’re going to continue to drive relentlessly to that moment that we can have a vaccine that’s safe and effective and available for the American people, and ultimately available for the world.
So, with that, Dr. Stephen Hahn will reflect on where we stand today. And let me say, Dr. Hahn, I want to thank you. And as you would have me do, I want to thank the thousands of men and women at the FDA who, from early in this pandemic, have literally opened the way for research on therapeutics and on vaccines, and have met — have literally moved forward at a record pace, an unprecedented pace. And we’re grateful for your leadership.
(The roundtable discussion begins.)
(The roundtable discussion concludes.)
Congressman Rouzer, thank you. And thanks for your leadership and your thoughtful remarks.
Well, I want to thank Dr. Grach again and the great team here at this extraordinary Biotech Center. We are in the Research Triangle, which is known all over America and all over the world. And I think the people of North Carolina can be proud of the extraordinary ingenuity of the scientists that are here.
And let me just say on behalf of the President and our entire team at the federal level, we’re truly grateful for all you have done and all the team here will continue to do across this Research Triangle to speed therapeutics, to speed vaccines to the American people in a safe and effective manner.
We’ve all been through a lot. And despite the fact that we see encouraging trends across the Sun Belt, we know we have a ways to go. So we want to — we want to encourage the people of North Carolina to continue to do your part. I hope you’re inspired by these volunteers who’ve stepped forward to participate in these clinical trials as much as I’ve been today. And if you have an interest in being a part of a clinical trial, go to ClinicalTrials.gov and you can do more than your part to help hasten the day that our nation has the medicines and, ultimately, the vaccine to put this coronavirus in the past.
But all of us have a role to play. So let me say again, to each of us, let’s just remember in the days ahead, seeing the progress that you’ve made here in North Carolina to slow the spread and to protect the vulnerable: Let’s all continue to wash our hands. Let’s continue to practice good hygiene. Wear a mask whenever state and local authorities indicate it’s appropriate or wherever social distancing is not possible.
And I’m absolutely convinced that as all of us continue to do our part; as these extraordinary scientists here in North Carolina and all across America continue to innovate; as our incredible healthcare workers continue to minister to the needs of those that are impacted, that with all of those efforts of all of those Americans, and with what I know is a chorus of prayers from tens of millions of Americans, that we’ll get through this, and the day will come that we put the coronavirus in the past and we bring North Carolina and America back bigger and better than ever before.
So thank you all very much. And God bless you. (Applause.)
4:23 P.M. EDT