[Leer en español]
The President of the United States, Donald Trump, will say goodbye to the White House with what could be called one of the greatest achievements in the history of the country and the world: Operation Warp Speed (OWS), the program that promoted the creation of the vaccine against COVID-19.
Thanks to the Trump Government and Operation Warp Speed, a large part of the world’s population will be able to be immunized against the virus that has killed 1.7 million people. This is the largest health initiative in U.S. history that is making it possible to get the shot in just 10 months of a pandemic.
Trump named the operation “Warp Speed” in reference to a science fiction term that involves going faster than the speed of light. He appointed an Army general and a former GSK lab executive to combine the expertise of Department of Health scientists with military logistics.
The U.S. government invested more than $10 billion in this program to obtain 300 million doses of the vaccine by the end of January 2021, something never before achieved in history.
Typically, developing a vaccine requires decades of research and testing to find a safe and efficient solution, something that, thanks to the Trump administration and the scientists involved, appears to have been achieved in just ten months without compromising safety.
“The Trump administration deserves some credit for getting this, Operation Warp Speed, off the ground,” said Democrat Joe Biden after the vaccine was delivered and after recognizing the undeniable effort by the White House to accelerate vaccine development.
Operation Warp Speed officially announced on May 15th is a public-private partnership initiated by the Trump administration to facilitate, accelerate the development, manufacture and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, therapies and diagnostics.
Warp Speed was initially funded with about $10 million from Let CARES (Coronavirus Economic Assistance, Relief and Security) approved by the U.S. Congress on March 27th.
Trump’s efforts to push for the creation of the vaccine can be seen as a Christmas present for Biden when he arrives at the White House, who will have little time to deal with criticism of how to attack the disease. The solution already exists and is being distributed throughout the country thanks to the current administration.
Trump not only pushed for Operation Warp Speed but has sought to ensure that U.S. citizens are the first to receive the vaccine. On December 8th, he signed an executive order to make sure Americans have access to the vaccine before other countries do.
Both Pfizer and Moderna received money from the U.S. government, but only Moderna used it to pay for the first part of the development. Both pharmaceutical companies are already delivering the vaccines to the countries with which they made agreements.
The first 100 million doses from Pfizer and its partner, Germany’s BioNTech, went to the United States, according to an agreement that is part of Operation Warp Speed by which Washington committed to pay US$1.95 billion to Pfizer, with an option to expand to 500 million vaccines.
Warp Speed: the largest vaccination campaign in history
This is the beginning of the largest vaccination campaign in the history of the United States and the world, as five countries are already administering Pfizer vaccine to combat the pandemic.
Pfizer and Moderna injections require two doses, given 21 and 28 days apart, respectively. Operation Warp Speed wants to make sure that a vaccine is always available for the second dose.
According to Paul Ostrowski, who directs Operation Warp Speed’s production and distribution, the vaccination program consists of shipping only half of all available vaccine each week. The other half will be kept in stock and delivered just prior to the deadline for the second dose for those vaccinated for the first time.
The European Union ordered doses from six manufacturers, including five that are supported by “Warp Speed.”
“The power of the investment had a significant accelerating effect,” Loïc Chabanier of the EY consulting firm told the AFP news agency in Paris, who pointed out that the support from the United States made it possible to finance large-scale clinical trials, in addition to the renovation of buildings or the construction of factories.
“The Americans financed the clinical study for the entire planet,” said the CEO of Moderna, Stéphane Bancel.