The Defense Department (DoD) is investing $600 million along with the work of more than 1,000 people in its effort to develop vaccines and treatments for the COVID-19 coronavirus, a DoD official said April 7.

“With regard to emergency science, DoD is investing over $600 million to start” in the vaccine and therapies effort, said Jonathan Rath Hoffman, assistant to the Secretary of Defense for public affairs, at a press briefing.

Along with the funding, he said the Pentagon is employing more than 1,000 scientific and technical personnel in at the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and the Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases. He added that military researchers “are at the forefront of vaccine and therapeutic development.”

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“As far as vaccines are concerned, we’re pursuing a number of different vaccine candidates,” said Joint Staff Surgeon Air Force Gen. Paul Friedrichs at the same press briefing.

“I there’s five that the Department of Defense are directly involved in as well as supporting a number of projects through interagency collaboration. So, we have trials that we’re either directly supporting or research that we’re doing directly as well as supporting efforts by other federal agencies, and those are moving forward,” he said.

Gen. Friedrichs said animal safety trials for one vaccine candidate began this week but cautioned that the process for evaluating any potential vaccine is lengthy. “I don’t want to create a false expectation though that … a vaccine is right around the corner,” he said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.