The National Guard now has around 47,000 activated service members on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic -- and President Donald Trump has even more plans for military involvement in the future.
The Department of Defense is working to stay on the forward edge of vaccine development. The DoD has several vaccine candidates being tested at various levels of the development process. The department just signed a $138 million contract for pre-fillable syringes -- to fill with the vaccine once it's available. And, according to Trump, the military will be activated to distribute the vaccine once it's ready.
Trump told Fox Business Network that the military is "being mobilized so, at the end of the year, we’re going to be able to give it to a lot of people very, very rapidly."
Trump did not elaborate on what exactly that mobilization looks like beyond saying that distributing the vaccine would be "a massive job."
The White House plans to distribute 300 million doses of the vaccine by the end of the year. Public health officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, however, have said that expecting a vaccine to be ready for public distribution by fall is unrealistic.
The 47,000 guardsmen currently activated are facilitating testing, distributing supplies, and providing logistical support to COVID-19 prevention efforts across the country. As of Thursday morning, 1,096 members of the National Guard had also tested positive for COVID-19. Many of these are among those on the frontlines of the efforts.