COVID-19 and “Operation Warp Speed”

COVID-19 and “Operation Warp Speed”

A COVID-19 vaccine is in the works, and even the US army is contributing.

The media seems to be inundated with insults aimed at Dr. Fauci the disease expert, Trump smiling with beans, and states being overrun and out of control with coronaviruses cases while the CDC is stripped of its role in the pandemic. What the heck is “Operation Warp Speed” (OWS) then, and does it matter?

OWS sounds like a superhero plan, and in a way, it is. And yes, it does matter. OWS is the plan the U.S Department of Health and Human Services has in place to deliver over 300 million doses of a safe COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021, and we should all be crossing our fingers that everything goes down well and that it works.

The whole project is being led by HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Defense Secretary Mark Esper. Dr. Moncef Slaoui has been designated as chief advisor and General Gustave F. Perna was nominated to be the chief operating officer. 

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A lot of groups are also involved. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and some private pharmaceutical firms are all said to be contributing to OWS.

How are they doing groundbreaking work?

If they get things right, it will be a historical moment. This is because there are two main differences between the development of a coronavirus vaccine done solely by a private company and that being chased by OWS. 

The trials in OWS are being done much more quickly than normal. The timing of manufacturing is also something new. 

Essentially, if a vaccine looks promising, the US government has decided to manufacture it right away. This is being done before officials know if the vaccine is even safe to use or not. So, trials and manufacturing of a COVID-19 vaccine are now being done simultaneously, which is pretty much unheard of.

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The good news is that, if a vaccine eventually looks unsafe, the government will not continue manufacturing it. The bad news is that everything here is a gamble, and a lot of money could potentially be wasted. There could also be the chance for increased error as everything is being so much done faster. But it could work. 

So far, the OWS has given a lot of money to Johnson & Johnson, Moderna, AstraZeneca, and the University of Oxford towards creating a COVID-19 vaccine. Approximately 30,000 people in the US have volunteered to participate in some of the clinical trials. About 14 promising vaccine candidates have already been chosen from a pool of hundreds, and this pool of fourteen will eventually be cut in half and narrowed down to about seven potential COVID-19 vaccines. After this, large-scale randomized trials will begin. 

So, that’s the speedy run-down on Operation Warp Speed. Cross your fingers that something can come of it. January is far off but also not so far away, really, and we hope for everyone’s health and the economy that this huge team can do it.

For more nitty-gritty details on OWS, click here

photo credits: Africa Studio/

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