Earlier this year, the Trump administration launched a partnership between the federal government, scientific community and private sector called Operation Warp Speed.

The goal of this partnership is to develop 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine by January 2021 to fight the COVID-19 coronavirus. Congress has already provided nearly $10 billion to develop a vaccine through emergency legislation like the CARES Act, which I proudly supported, and thanks to the Trump administration’s leadership and American ingenuity, our country is well on its way to developing a vaccine in record time.

The name “Operation Warp Speed” refers to the incredible speed at which we are developing a vaccine. Typically, the development process from start to finish takes about four years. However, just months after the coronavirus reached U.S. soil, we already have a number of vaccine candidates nearing the final stages of clinical development.

Earlier this week, the National Institutes of Health announced the beginning of a Phase 3 clinical trial with 30,000 patients for a possible vaccine candidate, and more are expected to start soon. This is the fastest that a vaccine for a novel pathogen has been developed. Ever.

Operation Warp Speed has also created an expedited process for distributing the vaccine. Normally, vaccine producers wait until after a vaccine is approved to start developing a process for mass production and delivery. However, this process can take a long time.

Operation Warp Speed is shaving months and years off this process by allowing these vaccine development steps to occur simultaneously, rather than one at a time. This means that once a vaccine is approved, we will have doses available for immediate distribution.

It’s important to understand that this quicker process will not affect the safety of the vaccine. The vaccine will still go through a rigorous testing and trial process to ensure it is safe and effective. This quicker process simply ensures that there is no delay between approval and distribution to the public once the vaccine has been declared safe and effective.

I look forward to being vaccinated against COVID-19 once a vaccine is readily available. The sooner our population is vaccinated, the sooner we can all return to our normal lives. In the meantime, we all must do our part to keep our friends and neighbors healthy.

Cover your mouth and nose when you will be in close proximity to others in public, stay home if you feel ill, and get tested if you believe you have been exposed to the virus. You can find the testing site nearest to you by visiting the state of Tennessee’s website at https://www.tn.gov/governor/covid-19/get-tested.

In addition to developing a vaccine, we have made incredible progress toward developing treatments and therapeutics. It’s important to remember this is a brand-new virus we have never seen before and that for the first few months of the pandemic our doctors and nurses were still learning the best way to treat patients.

By learning more about the virus and how it affects people, we can ensure that patients who do get sick have better care and better outcomes. We have made significant strides in developing treatments already, and we will continue to do so.

One of the key lessons we have learned from this crisis is how important it is for our country to have stable, reliable sources of medicine. For years, our country has relied on countries like China to produce drugs and medical supplies.

However, earlier this year, China threatened to cut off the supply of medicine to United States during this crisis, which would have had a devastating impact on our country’s health. Relying on other countries for vital prescriptions leaves our country vulnerable – especially during a global pandemic.

That’s why I’m a proud cosponsor of H.R. 6708, the Securing America’s Medicine Cabinet Act, which was introduced by Representative Vern Buchanan (R-FL). This legislation would bring pharmaceutical manufacturing to back to the U.S. and ensure that our country isn’t reliant on countries like China for life-saving drugs. This isn’t just a health issue – it’s a national security issue.

Our country is working at warp speed to defeat the COVID-19 coronavirus, and I have no doubt that together we will be able to defeat this invisible enemy.

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