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6 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

US “Operation Warp Speed“ vaccine project could be risky, analysts warn

By Samuel Horti

A project set up by US President Donald Trump to speed up vaccine development is potentially risky, analysts have said.

Operation Warp Speed essentially gives coronavirus vaccine researchers a blank cheque. The project aims to speed up the development of a novel vaccine, which normally takes years.

Its goal is to produce 300 million doses of a working vaccine by early 2021. It is starting with 14 vaccine candidates, and more will undergo testing. From those, between six and eight will proceed to clinical trials, with three or four proving successful by 2021.

Johanna Swanson, product manager at GlobalData, warns that there is no guarantee a vaccine will be found, and that some of the vaccines are being produced using “untested approaches at this level of scale”. 

“There could be unforeseen efficacy and safety issues,” she said. “The 1976 vaccine for swine flu, which the government attempted to expedite, was associated with cases of Guillain-Barre Syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can lead to temporary paralysis.”

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