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Health

Trump mobilizing U.S. military to deliver coronavirus vaccine

FILE PHOTO: U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak response with North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum and Colorado Governor Jared Polis in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, U.S., May 13, 2020. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump is mobilizing the U.S. military to distribute a novel coronavirus vaccine when one becomes available and will focus first on older Americans.

“You know it’s a massive job to give this vaccine,” Trump said in an interview broadcast Thursday on Fox Business Network. “Our military is now being mobilized so at the end of the year, we’re going to be able to give it to a lot of people very, very rapidly.”

He said he believes there will be a vaccine by the end of the year and the United States is mobilizing “our military and other forces” on that assumption.

The White House has set a target of having 300 million vaccine doses by the end of 2020. No such vaccine for this pathogen has been approved though a number are under development, and producing and distributing an effective vaccine are seen as key steps to jumpstarting the U.S. economy.

Trump’s timetable conflicts with that given by the nation’s top infectious disease expert in Senate testimony on Tuesday.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, who directs the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious diseases, said the idea that there will be a vaccine available by next fall, when schools and universities resume classes, was “a bridge too far.”

Reporting by Susan Heavey and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama

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