“Operation Warp speed” is a program organized by Trump’s administration to pull together private pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and the military to develop a vaccine for COVID-19. The U.S. government is already funding manufacturers and private drugmakers through grants given by the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. Operation Warp Speed will add to those efforts and help with producing and procuring the many items that go into a ready-to-use vaccine, like glass vials and syringes. Even though Operation Warp Speed is led by the US, other countries and groups are attempting to achieve similar aims. But now, it is around four months of one of the largest medical emergencies of American history happening.
Operation Warp speed: Does It Focus On Work Or Politicize It?
Operation Warp Speed was announced to develop 300million doses of COVID-19 vaccine which is enough to protect most Americans.
The announcements pleased politicians and they offered citizens, a hope to leave lockdowns, and investors are eager to return economic activities. But scientists opinioned that to develop a vaccine it could take a much longer time. Because they know very little about the disease, virus, and how the human body reacts to it. Some of the scientists warned that it is impossible to create a vaccine for COVID-19. But the fear is that it might politicize scientific process under an administration, and experts are slowing the work on the vaccine.
“We just need to ensure that decisions are made thoughtfully and in an apolitical manner so as to not undermine the existing structures and expertise in place to keep vaccines safe,” said Lois Privor-Dumm, policy director at the International Vaccine Access Center at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Lack of transparency
After a week of the announcement of the operation, $1.2 billion has been pledged to accelerate a possible vaccine developed at the University of Oxford. This is remarked as a major milestone in Operation Warp speed. Yet, few details about the fundings are available, which points to the lack of transparency. The White House did not answer questions about reports Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and his top trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro are helping to lead the effort. Both have promoted partnerships between government and private industry to address challenges facing the nation. Neither has prior experience with public health crises.
The team has so far identified 14 possible vaccines. The eight most probable vaccines will be selected and provide coordinated government support for their development and testing in early-stage small clinical trials. Large-scale randomized trials will proceed in three to five of them.
The man who is in charge of Warp Speed operation is Moncef Slaoui, an expert in molecular biology and immunology who has spent his career developing vaccines and working in pharmaceutical companies. Four-star Army General Gustave Perna will serve as the chief operating officer. Perna is the commanding general at U.S. Army Materiel Command in Huntsville, Alabama.
The operation has already accessed enough funds. Including the CARES Act. Congress has directed almost $10 million and $6.5 billion was designated for countermeasure development through BARDA and $3 billion for NIH research.