The Army is actively testing coronavirus vaccine prototypes in small animals before moving to trials on humans. The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research has produced three distinct vaccines and Army officials will select the most promising to move forward.
Researchers at Walter Reed have been working on vaccine development since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy told reporters Thursday at the Pentagon.
Walter Reed’s Emerging Infectious Diseases Branch has joined the hunt for a safe and effective vaccine to prevent infection with COVID-19, officials said.
“Based on [our] long experience developing vaccines for other virus and recent work on coronaviruses, we’ve been able to move quickly in advancing a vaccine candidate,” Dr. Kayvon Modjarrad, director of the emerging infectious diseases branch, said in a statement.
The Army has been coordinating closely with the private sector to find solutions to shortages in medical equipment to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Private firms have retooled production lines “to manufacture masks, gowns, ventilators and other equipment,” Mr. McCarthy said.
Select manufacturers this week will be taking part in the Army’s version of a “virtual Shark Tank,” pitching their ideas for low-cost and low-maintenance ventilators for COVID-19 patients.
“The successful pitches will turn into an initial investment of $100,000 to develop their idea and a shot at production contracts,” Mr. McCarthy said.
Gen. James C. McConville, the Army Chief of Staff, said 992 soldiers — from both active duty and the reserves — have tested positive for the coronavirus, including a cluster of at least 50 cases from a single training battalion at Fort Jackson, S.C.
He said the Army is ramping up testing at basic training posts like Fort Jackson.
“We have a sacred obligation to take care of your sons and daughters and to ensure they are ready to support and defend this nation,” Gen. McConville said.
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