MIAMI — Vice President Mike Pence was in South Florida on Monday to mark the beginning of the first phase three clinical trial for a coronavirus vaccine in the United States.
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Pence is at the University of Miami's Don Soffer Clinical Research Center this afternoon to participate in a roundtable with Gov. Ron DeSantis, university leaders and researchers on the progress of a vaccine.
The vice president said biotechnology company Moderna is undertaking the phase three clinical trial.
"We are moving at a historic pace to develop a vaccine," Pence said. "There will be no shortcuts. There will be no cutting corners."
Pence said $10 billion in funding has been secured for "Operation Warp Speed," the name the Trump administration has given to the search for an effective vaccine.
He added that there are plans to produce a stockpile of the vaccine so it will be ready to go if and when it is approved by the FDA.
"We're not waiting to create the vaccine until it's finally approved with both Moderna, Pfizer and other companies. We're actually having them create the vaccine now to have it ready at the point at which we achieve the final approval from the FDA," said Pence.
Pence reiterated the importance of students returning to schools this fall.
"The risk of the coronavirus to healthy kids is very low ... there are real costs to children for not being in the classroom," Pence said.
DeSantis pointed out the importance of allowing schools to offer a choice for parents to decide if their children should return to in-person teaching. Children are not "the drivers of transmission" for the coronavirus, the governor said.
However, newly released federal guidelines for reopening schools raised serious questions about whether in-person classes should resume this fall.
Pence thanked DeSantis for his "steady leadership" through the pandemic and his early efforts to procure testing and supplies to save lives.
FDA Commissioner Steve Hahn said they have issued guidance to outline the data that federal officials will need in order to determine the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine.
"FDA scientists and our Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research will not cut corners in order to evaluate a vaccine," said Hahn. "There are more than 100 vaccines that are being looked at around the world in various stages of development."
DeSantis said the federal government is sending new point of care coronavirus diagnostic tests to nursing homes across Florida and the country. The governor said these tests will help resume visits to nursing homes and allow family members to get tested and receive the results within 15 minutes.
"This is a way to maintain the safety and still work to keep the virus out of these very vulnerable areas, while still giving people some personal nourishment and having the families connect again," DeSantis said.
Miami is one of many clinical research sites in the U.S. conducting studies on developing a coronavirus vaccine.
Last week, Wellington Dr. Larry Bush revealed that Palm Beach County would be part of a vaccine trial, seeking around 1,500 volunteers.
Florida now has 5,931 deaths from the coronavirus with 432,747 confirmed cases, according to stats released Monday by the Florida Department of Health.