United States President Donald Trump has announced that the vaccine for coronavirus being developed by AstraZeneca has reached phase three clinical trials in the country and is very close to being finalised for approval.
The phase 3 trial is being implemented as part of Operation Warp Speed, a multi-agency collaboration led by the US Health and Human Services, which aims at accelerating the development and manufacturing of medical countermeasures for COVID-19 and delivering 300 million doses of an effective vaccine by January 2021.
"I am pleased to announce that AstraZeneca vaccine has reached phase three clinical trials," Trump told reporters at the White House on Monday.
"That's joining another group of vaccines that are very close to the end, and hopefully, approval," he added.
AstraZeneca is one of the leaders in the race to develop COVID-19 vaccine. Other companies that have COVID-19 vaccines in phase 3 trials include Moderna Inc and Pfizer Inc.
"In the United States, we're doing things that nobody thought would have been even possible. This is a process that would have taken, in some cases, years, and we did it in a matter of months," Trump said.
The National Institute of Health separately announced that Phase 3 clinical trial evaluating an investigational COVID-19 vaccine known as AZD1222 will enroll approximately 30,000 adult volunteers at 80 sites in the US to evaluate if the candidate vaccine can prevent symptomatic COVID-19.
The United Kingdom-based global biopharmaceutical company AstraZeneca is leading the trial as regulatory sponsor.
"Safe and effective vaccines will be essential to meet the global need for widespread protection against COVID-19," said National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Director Anthony S Fauci.
"Positive results from preclinical research led by NIH scientists supported the rapid development of this vaccine candidate, which has also showed promise in early-stage clinical trials," he said.
Oxford University's Jenner Institute and Oxford Vaccine Group have developed AZD1222.
The candidate vaccine was licensed to AstraZeneca for further development.
Trump told reporters that the US remains on track to deliver a vaccine very rapidly in record time.
"Over the last month, new cases in the United States have declined by 38 per cent. Last week, we announced a breakthrough in testing that will allow us to have over 150 million rapid, point-of-care tests.
"These tests return results in less than 15 minutes, and many will be deployed to nursing homes," he said.
"We're focusing very strongly on nursing homes, assisted living facilities and other locations that serve high-risk populations. So we're going to have the 15-minute, and less, tests, and we will have 150 million rapid point-of-care tests," Trump said.
The US has so far recorded 6,030,782 coronavirus cases and 183,596 fatalities -- both the numbers highest in the world.