- The US government’s Operation Warp Speed anticipates it will take until March to deliver 300 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine.
- The ambitious vaccine initiative has often suggested the goal is to deliver the vaccine doses by January.
- Business Insider confirmed that OWS expects to have initial doses available by January, but it will take several more months to produce and deliver 300 million doses.
The Trump administration has laid out an extraordinarily ambitious timeline for a coronavirus vaccine.
Operation Warp Speed, the government’s initiative to speed up vaccine work, says it’s aiming to deliver 300 million doses of a safe and effective shot by January 1. Creating a vaccine in less than a year would be an unprecedented feat — under normal circumstances, it can take a decade to develop a new vaccine and bring it to market.
But even if Warp Speed accomplishes this goal, most of us won’t be getting coronavirus vaccines in January. When administration officials talk about Warp Speed, they usually don’t mention that it will take months to distribute the shots across the nation.
The US Department of Health and Human Services, for example, says Warp Speed “aims to deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021.”
But Operation Warp Speed won’t really deliver those 300 million doses to people until roughly March, administration officials acknowledged.
An unclear timeline for Operation Warp Speed
The confusion is evident in a timeline published on Thursday on the Defense Department’s Operation Warp Speed website. (OWS is a collaboration between the Department of Defense and the Department of Health and Human Services.)
The document, which Business Insider annotated below, says Warp Speed’s mission is to “deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccine by 1 January 2021.” But it also shows how it will take 14 months to test, manufacture, and distribute a vaccine — a timeline that would stretch into March.
To be clear, distributing hundreds of millions of doses of a coronavirus vaccine by next March would be an unprecedented feat. Achieving that goal depends on a lot going right, including seeing success in clinical studies, ramping up manufacturing, and logistically executing the distribution of the shots across the nation.
It’s important to be realistic about when we’ll have a vaccine
As it stands, none of the coronavirus vaccine candidates that drugmakers are working on has shown that it can actually prevent infection or disease. Large-scale trials of vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer-BioNTech, and AstraZeneca have begun in recent weeks, with results likely to come later this fall or winter.
Stephane Bancel, the CEO of Moderna, recently estimated that in a best-case scenario — in which several of these leading vaccine candidates work — young and healthy people would likely receive their shots in spring 2021. If any of the leading shots fail in clinical trials, the timeline could be pushed into the second half of next year, Bancel said.
It’s important to be realistic about the timeline for a coronavirus vaccine, particularly as the US’s public-health response has become increasingly dependent on a vaccine to curb the pandemic. Shortcomings in testing, mask-wearing, and social distancing have laid bare the need for a vaccine, as more than 1,000 people in the US have died each day from the coronavirus in recent weeks.
Drug-industry CEOs have said we need to be cautious about the vaccine timeline
Some top drug-industry CEOs have also emphasized the need for caution on the most aggressive timelines.
Roche CEO Severin Schwan said in April that a vaccine would “most likely” not be ready before the end of 2021. Novartis CEO Vas Narasimhan said on Thursday at a Bloomberg News event that he had “reasonable confidence” that a vaccine could be broadly used by the end of next year.
Roche isn’t working on a coronavirus vaccine, while Novartis is involved in an early-stage vaccine project. Kenneth Frazier, the CEO of Merck, a drugmaker with a long track record of creating vaccines, has also urged people to be realistic about the timeline.
“I think when people tell the public that there’s going to be a vaccine by the end of 2020, for example, I think they do a grave disservice,” Frazier said in a recent interview with the Harvard professor Tsedal Neeley. “We don’t have a great history of introducing vaccines quickly in the middle of a pandemic. We want to keep that in mind.”
Merck is working on a coronavirus vaccine of its own but hasn’t provided a detailed timeline.
We asked the Trump administration to clarify Warp Speed’s goals
Business Insider asked Trump administration officials in recent days to clarify Warp Speed’s goals, because the recent timeline isn’t the only instance in which the administration has been unclear. For example:
- Paul Mango, a senior administration official working on Operation Warp Speed and a deputy chief of staff at HHS, said on a press call on Wednesday, “I can tell you and reiterate we are on track to deliver hundreds of millions of doses by January 2021.”
- President Donald Trump said earlier this month that a vaccine could be ready “right around” the November 3 election. “I’m rushing it. I am. I’m pushing everybody,” Trump told the radio host Geraldo Rivera, adding, “And we’re mass-producing the most promising candidates in advance so that we’re ready upon approval.”
- HHS Secretary Alex Azar said in an interview with a local television station in August: “We now stand at a position where it is very credible that by the end of the year we will have in the high tens of millions of doses of FDA, gold-standard vaccine and, by the beginning of next year, hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines.”
Administration officials confirmed to Business Insider that it would take months after January to accomplish Warp Speed’s goals of injecting 300 million vaccine doses.
Here’s how Dr. Francis Collins, the head of the National Institutes of Health, put it in response to a question about the timeline:
“That last three months is distribution of 300 million doses,” Collins said. “That is the process of getting a dose to every American, which we didn’t expect we could do by the first of January. That’s going to take the additional three months to do so.”
Source: Business Insider
As noted above many have stated that it will be at least March 2021 before a vaccine is available and January 2021 simply is not realistic. What do you think of the current administrations handling of the pandemic? Do you think they can deliver a vaccine by January 2021? What do you think of this administration current handling of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic? Share your comments with the community by posting them below. Share the wealth of health with your friends and family by sharing this article with 3 people today. As always you are the best part of what we do. Keep sharing!
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