Trump urges pharmaceutical executives to accelerate coronavirus vaccine efforts

President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO: 'Not true' that removing Trump campaign video was illegal, as president has claimed Biden formally clinches Democratic presidential nomination Barr says he didn't give 'tactical' command to clear Lafayette protesters MORE on Monday said he is urging pharmaceutical executives attending a White House meeting to accelerate their efforts to develop a vaccine for the coronavirus.

"We’ve asked them to accelerate whatever they’re doing in terms of a vaccine," Trump told reporters during an Oval Office meeting with the president of Colombia.

The president and members of the White House coronavirus task force are scheduled to host pharmaceutical executives at 3 p.m. Ten pharmaceutical executives were in attendance, including the CEOs of Novorax, Gilead, CureVac and Inovio. Officials from Pfizer, Sanofi and Johnson and Johson were also at the meeting. 

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Trump said the meeting was previously arranged to discuss drug pricing as the White House and Congress weigh legislation aimed at curbing costs.

"But now we’re going to make another subject — and that'll be probably the first subject, and that has to do with the vaccine and how are they doing," Trump said.

The president has been exceedingly optimistic about the chances for a vaccine to combat the coronavirus as new cases popped up across the United States and the first two American deaths were reported.

But health experts have stressed that while testing may start soon, a widespread vaccine is unlikely to be available for several months.

Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said during a news conference last week that it would likely take about a year or 18 months to have a fully effective and accessible vaccine, but that it would be useful if the coronavirus makes a return in the future.

"The answer to containing is public health measures," he said. "We can't rely on a vaccine over the next several months to a year."

Updated at 3:26 p.m.