“Pfizer, US Reach $1.95 Billion Coronavirus Vaccine Deal”
“Novovax to get $1.6 Billion from Operation Warp Speed for the Development of COVID-19 Vaccine”
You may have seen these or similar headlines for Moderna, AstraZeneca, Emergent Biosolutions and Johnson & Johnson. But, what is Operation Warp Speed and how might it speed up the COVID-19 vaccination process?
Operation Warp Speed is a creative, especially for the government, plan to get a vaccine for COVID-19 to the public as quickly as possible. Some have referred to it as a Manhattan Project for vaccines. Through July 23rd, agreements totaling approximately $6.32 Billion have been announced.
In general, it works by pouring vast amounts of money directly where the funds can be most helpful. Private companies cannot afford to sink multiple billions of dollars into mass production of a promising but unproven vaccine until it has gone through the approval process with the FDA. The funds from the US Government are designed to start that production process so if/when the vaccine gets approved, there are millions of doses already prepared and ready to be deployed. The government, and their virtually limitless supply of funds, can absorb a failure in ways that the private companies cannot.
The influx of funds is expected to shorten by several months the time it takes to distribute a vaccine globally. In 2020 when every month has felt like several years, this kind of relief would have incalculable benefits.
The FDA and the vaccine manufacturers have been working as quickly as possible in testing the validity and results of the COVID-19 vaccines. Production limitations were viewed as a large roadblock to public deployment. Hopefully, science and Operation Warp Speed can turn that mountain into a molehill.