President Trump has received little credit for his extraordinary success in producing a Covid-19 vaccine in a record six months. Some of that is due to a biased media unwilling to credit Trump with any success, but some has to do with the operation’s clandestine, low-key approach to achieving its goal. And then there is the Pentagon’s outsized involvement.
When Trump unveiled Operation Warp Speed (OWS) in May, reports STAT News, he declared that it was “unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project.” A $10 billion public-private partnership to rival the project to develop the atom bomb.
“Operation Warp Speed’s central goal is to develop, produce, and distribute 300 million doses of a coronavirus vaccine by January — and the military is intimately involved, according to Paul Mango, HHS’ deputy chief of staff for policy,” noted STAT.
“This is a massive scientific and logistical undertaking,” said Mango. “We are weeks away, at most, a month or two away from having at least one safe and effective vaccine.”
The OWS effort was launched to accelerate the development of Covid-19 vaccines and therapeutics, and it appears poised to do just that. Though it lacks the scale, and the degree of secrecy, of the effort to build the A-bomb, notes STAT, little has been known of the quiet effort. Even pharmaceutical companies hoping to support it often found it difficult to know who to contact.
But recently released information is now lifting the veil of secrecy from the program and showing the dominant leadership role the Pentagon had in this tremendous success.
According to STAT, an organizational chart it obtained “reveals the fullest picture yet of Operation Warp Speed: a highly structured organization in which military personnel vastly outnumber civilian scientists.” STAT explains:
The labyrinthine chart, dated July 30, shows that roughly 60 military officials — including at least four generals — are involved in the leadership of Operation Warp Speed, many of whom have never worked in health care or vaccine development. Just 29 of the roughly 90 leaders on the chart aren’t employed by the Department of Defense; most of them work for the Department of Health and Human Services and its sub agencies.
The military’s extensive involvement in the development and distribution of a vaccine is a departure from pandemics of the past, notes STAT, but it is fitting for Trump. However, Mango also added that the vast majority of scientists working on Operation Warp Speed work for the pharmaceutical companies the effort is funding, not the government.
The scientists and others in the private sector component of this combined effort deserve as much credit as anyone.
Still, the military added to the critical logistical aspects of this massive undertaking, as well as the much-needed security of the project. As STAT reported:
It has already helped prop up more than two dozen vaccine manufacturing facilities — flying in equipment and raw materials from all over the world. It has also set up significant cybersecurity and physical security operations to ensure an eventual vaccine is guarded very closely from “state actors who don’t want us to be successful in this,” Mango said, adding that many of the Warp Speed discussions take place in protected rooms used to discuss classified information.
Bottom line is — the team put together by President Trump for this vital global effort is one of the best ever created. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, approvingly called Operation Warp Speed a “talent show. If you go through the organizational boxes of Operation Warp Speed, they’re very, very impressive,” Fauci told STAT in an interview Friday.
And soon, America, and the world, will be benefiting from the results of Trump’s Pentagon-led Operation Warp Speed.
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