Dr Fauci says it was him and not Trump who pioneered historic vaccine project

Dr Anthony Fauci has said that it was him who decided it was time to develop a vaccine against Covid-19, something former President Donald Trump has long said was his doing along with the “Operation Warp Speed” vaccine project.

Dr Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the chief medical advisor to president Biden, told CNN in a special report broadcast on Sunday: “When I saw what happened in New York City, almost over-running of our healthcare systems… that’s when it became very clear that the decision we made on January 10 to go all out and develop a vaccine may have been the best decision that I’ve ever made with regard to intervention as the director of the institute.”

Mr Trump claimed credit for the shots in a statement earlier this month, saying: “I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19… vaccine, that if I wasn’t president, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all. I hope everyone remembers!”

Trump advisor Jason Miller tweeted in response: “If it were up to Fauci we still wouldn’t have a Covid vaccine.”

Operation Warp Speed was a collaboration between public and private entities to develop and test vaccines as quickly as possible. While Dr Fauci was one of the top members in Mr Trump’s Coronavirus taskforce, he’s not reported to have had any formal role in the project, The Daily Mail writes.

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Operation Warp Speed worked separately from the taskforce and Dr Fauci has not previously been reported as a key figure in the development of the vaccines.

The Director of the National Institutes of Health Dr Francis Collins has previously said that the Trump administration deserves credit for the fast development of vaccines. He told Axios in February: “It’s just breathtaking that that got done in 11 months from when we first knew about this virus. It is at least five years faster than it has ever been done before.”

He added: “Operation Warp Speed, for which I give a great deal of credit to [former Health Secretary Alex Azar], was an effort that many of us were not initially convinced was going to be necessary. And it was thought about as a Manhattan Project.”

The Manhattan Project was a secret US government project to develop a nuclear bomb during World War II.

Dr Collins said: “Those words were used sometimes to describe what needed to happen in order to get all parts of the government together in an unprecedented way to test up to six vaccines in rigorous trials… so that if any of those trials happen to work, you would already have doses ready to go into arms.

“That effort and the recruitment of Dr Moncef Slaoui [Head of Operation Warp Speed from 2020 to 2021] was an incredibly important step forward that the administration deserves credit for because that did motivate a lot of actions, a lot of coordination.”

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