Warp Speed initiative aims for COVID-19 vaccine production within 6 weeks: Reuters

The U.S. government has dumped billions into COVID-19 vaccine development and manufacturing as part of its Warp Speed initiative. Now, with vaccine makers moving rapidly toward approval, the administration has high hopes at least one shot candidate will start churning out doses within the next six weeks.

With federal backing, at least one COVID-19 vaccine will likely be "actively manufacturing" within the next four to six weeks, a senior Trump administration official told Reuters Monday. 

Barring a surprise phase 3 readout and emergency use authorization from the FDA, that manufacturing would likely be "at-risk," meaning the vaccine's maker would be turning out doses without knowing whether they'll pass regulatory scrutiny. 

Operation Warp Speed has infused massive sums into its stable of chosen vaccine hopefuls in recent months, most recently a $1.6 billion deal last week with Maryland-based Novavax. The administration has also funded candidates from Moderna, Johnson & Johnson and AstraZeneca, and in June signed a $628 million deal with Maryland-based CDMO Emergent BioSolutions to secure manufacturing space to produce U.S. supply of selected shot candidates. 

The senior official told Reuters that the "slate is not closed" on additional agreements and touted the government's $450 million deal with Regeneron last week to help produce its antibody cocktail for COVID-19 as a hopeful route to treating the disease. 

RELATED: Novavax inks $1.6B Warp Speed deal to fund COVID vaccine's phase 3 testing, manufacturing

Players in the COVID-19 shot race have long said they would begin manufacturing as early as this summer despite warnings that a vaccine would likely not be available for public use before the end of the year.