President Donald Trump has handed off another life-or-death matter to his son-in-law and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.
The president wants a coronavirus vaccine by the end of the year, and he has tasked Kushner to lead those efforts to end the COVID-19 pandemic that's already claimed more than 72,000 American lives, reported The Daily Beast.
“Jared has been vocal in meetings about wanting to engage the private sector on the development of a vaccine in a similarly successful way that the administration did on ventilators, PPE and others,” a White House official told the website.
“President Trump made it clear to the task force weeks ago that business as usual wasn’t good enough in the fight against the coronavirus, and vaccines are no exception” said Michael Caputo, the new assistant secretary of public affairs at the Department of Health and Human Services. “It’s not impossible and yet the scientists are right: it’s going to be very difficult... When it happens, it will be an historic victory for all of America, led by a president who just wouldn’t take no for an answer when it mattered most. Come to think of it, maybe that’s what President Trump’s critics really dislike about it.”
The president is confident a vaccine will be available well before the 12-month timeline researchers cite as a best-case scenario, and Kushner is leading "Operation Warp Speed" with economic adviser Peter Navarro, who pitched the initiative by memo to the coronavirus task force that may soon wind down.
“We were all surprised that [Navarro] was pushing this idea so early on before we knew what supplies we had and where we needed to look to help fill the gaps,” said one administration official. “It was clearly a way to push back against China and a lot of us were uncomfortable doing that in a big way without understanding what we still needed in the stockpiles and elsewhere.”
White House officials hope the president's son-in-law will use his relationships with the private sector to speed up the lengthy development process, two sources told The Daily Beast.
However, not everyone in the White House shares in the president's optimism.
“We just do not see it happening,” said one senior Trump administration official who works closely with the task force.
Navarro claims the development process could be fast-tracked if the medical community operated in "Trump time," but five administration officials who work closely with the task force say that they've seen no evidence that a vaccine could be ready for the general public as soon as the president has promised.
Some of those officials say they have told Trump that his timeline is unrealistic, but he doesn't seem to understand.
When presented with those concerns, those officials said, the president answers some variation of: “I want it done, or I want it taken care of.”