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Public Policy Newsletter Article

Trump Administration Launches Program to Accelerate COVID-19 Medical Countermeasures

  • 2020-05-21T15:00:00.000+0000
  • Washington DC
  • Author: Brittany Blocker

On Friday, the Trump Administration announced Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership to facilitate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 countermeasures, between the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), the Department of Defense (DoD), other federal agencies and private firms. It will coordinate existing HHS-wide efforts, including the NIH's ACTIV partnership for vaccine and therapeutic development, NIH's RADx initiative for diagnostic development, and work by BARDA.

Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a former Moderna board member, was tapped to lead the operation. He will divest himself of his $10 million in stock options in the pharmaceutical company. Dr. Moncef Slaoui is an immunologist who has helped create five major novel vaccines within the private sector.

Operation Warp Speed’s goal is to develop and manufacture hundreds of millions of doses of a vaccine against the new coronavirus by the end of this year. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar said the initiative will streamline the federal government's efforts to develop a vaccine against the virus. The plan will allow drug manufacturers with promising vaccine candidates to scale up their production of the potential vaccines during clinical trials and before receiving FDA’s approval for the immunizations which means manufacturers would be accelerating production of the potential vaccines before their effectiveness is validated by FDA.

President Trump described the plan as “risky” and “expensive” but claims it would save a massive amount of time. The administration will choose a group of 14 promising vaccine candidates to focus under Operation Warp Speed. Also, President Trump said the administration is considering making the eventual vaccine available to Americans at no cost.