Major Federal Project Pushes Development of COVID-19 Vaccine

April 29, 2020

"Operation Warp Speed" seeks to develop and disburse 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to the public by year’s end.

"Operation Warp Speed," a federal project that some are likening to the Manhattan Project that developed the atomic bombs that ended World War II, seeks to develop and disburse 100 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine to the public by the end of the year, Bloomberg News reports.

That’s much faster than the usual 12-18 months it can take to create a viable vaccine and get it to market, but insiders say that President Donald Trump is creating a group comprising private pharmaceutical companies, government agencies, and the military to move the project along, according to Bloomberg. 

Operation Warp Speed also seeks to cut the time it takes for a vaccine to be tried on animals and then on humans, and will actually have the experiments overlap in some cases. 

Anthony Fauci, MD, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and one of Trump’s major advisors during the COVID-19 pandemic, has consistently said that a viable vaccine won’t be ready for 12 to 18 months, and even that’s considered fast in the world of vaccine development. For instance, work began on a vaccine for Ebola in 2014. That vaccine was just approved last December. 

Those close to the project have requested to remain anonymous because it hasn’t been officially unveiled to the American public, Bloomberg noted. Michael Caputo, a spokesman with the US Department of Health and Human Services, said that Trump pushed for a breakthrough in the way vaccines are developed. 

“Operation Warp Speed will use government resources to quickly test the world’s most promising experimental vaccines in animals, then launch coordinated human clinical trials to winnow down the candidates,” Bloomberg reports. “The best prospective vaccines would go into wider trials at the same time mass production ramps up.”

The cost? No one knows for sure at this point, but a Bloomberg source estimated "billions of dollars," although it will be funded from "money already available to the government and won't require new authority from Congress."

Investigators worldwide are scrambling to develop a prophylactic vaccine to protect against COVID-19 infection. This week, investigators on a trial out of Oxford University reported that the team has begun testing a potential vaccine in 1100 volunteer patients, with preliminary results possibly coming in as little as 2-6 months.