COVID-19 vaccine weeks away, J&J, Moderna, Pfizer leading race

'It's not a guarantee, but it will be by the end of the year,' Trump said

President Trump said a coronavirus vaccine will be announced within weeks during his first remarks in Thursday's presidential debate.

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Moderator Kristen Walker asked Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden how they would lead efforts to combat COVID-19, which has claimed the lives of more than 220,000 lives in the United States.

"Is that a guarantee?" Walker asked Trump of his vaccine timeline.

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"No, it's not a guarantee, but it will be by the end of the year," Trump replied.

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He named several pharmaceutical companies -- Johnson & Johnson, Moderna and Pfizer --  that are in the development stages of a vaccine. He said the U.S. was working with foreign companies as well.

Trump administration officials have previously said it could take until well into next year to distribute enough doses for all Americans once a vaccine is ready.

"I think my timeline is going to be more accurate," Trump said."I don't know that they're counting on the military the way I do."

He cited Army Gen. Gustave Perna, who co-leads public-private partnership -- dubbed "Operation Warp Speed" -- with Moncef Slaoui, the ex-head of GlaxoSmithKline vaccines division.

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Perna has led the Army's Material Command, its primary logistical command.

"This is a very easy distribution for him. He's ready to go," Trump said. "We expect 100 million viles. As soon as we have the vaccine, he's ready to go."

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