Dr. Operation Warp Speed Science Advisor Moncef Slaoui speaks during a press conference on Operation Warp Speed and the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 in Washington.
Patrick Semansky / press pool
This week reported that their vaccines were effective in clinical trials and what a happy time. The US urgently needs a boost in supply. However, at this point it is also worth noting how the former chief of Operation Warp Speed, Moncef Slaoui, positioned the Biden administration for a vaccination triumph.
One idea inspired by Mr Slaouis was to diversify the federal government’s vaccine bets with six manufacturers when nobody knew which, if any, would work. The vaccine candidates used different technologies – Moderna and
-BioNTech (mRNA), J&J and
(Adenovirus) and Novavax and
-GSK (recombinant protein).
J&J and AstraZeneca’s vaccines were hampered by delays in the fall. But J&J reported Friday that its vaccine was 66% effective at protecting people from moderate to severe illness and 85% from serious illness in a global study. Early study data from AstraZeneca suggest similar effectiveness. Novavax reported Thursday that its shot appears to be nearly 90% effective.
Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines are approximately 95% effective. Hence, it is a coincidence that their test results came first so that their shots could vaccinate the elderly and others at highest risk. But even if they are a little less effective, the other vaccines could be good candidates for young people and increase availability this spring.
Operation Warp Speed eliminated financial risk for drug makers by pre-funding trials and manufacturing so vaccines could be launched as soon as they were approved. Because of this, around 20 million Americans have already been vaccinated. President Biden this week ordered an additional 200 million cans from Pfizer and Moderna for delivery this summer.
Those extra doses may or may not be required when other vaccines are approved – J&J could add 100 million this spring – but the reason they’ll be available is because of contracts that Operation Warp Speed is negotiating with drug makers that gave the government the ability to order more. We point this out because White House officials have determined that they are “starting over”.
That’s Wrong Operation Warp Speed incentivized vaccine development and supported the rapid approval and distribution infrastructure for which Mr. Biden will no doubt gain credit as the rollout gains speed and breadth. The Biden team showed their gratitude by dropping Mr. Slaoui on a nasty news leak that criticized his good work.
Mr. Slaoui graciously agreed to remain on the job as a consultant for a few weeks. He deserves praise for his excellent public service, especially since the Biden administration so rudely disregards this.
Wunderland: Covid vaccination problem is reminiscent of the catastrophic introduction of ObamaCare and Obama-Biden’s response to H1N1. Image: Jim Watson / AFP via Getty Images
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