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The Truth About the Speed of Trump’s Operation Warp
Millions of people across the United States have already received doses of coronavirus vaccines – vaccines developed as part of Operation Warp Speed (OWS), the project designed, launched, funded and largely executed under the leadership of the Trump administration. Every day, millions more join their ranks. But listening to members of the liberal media and the Biden administration, one could be forgiven for not having clearly understood the pivotal role that leaders in the Trump administration, as well as private sector partners, have played in the process. development, manufacture and delivery of over 300 million effective vaccines in less than a year to the American people. After President Biden’s speech to the nation last week, MSNBC’s Nicole Wallace said that OWS “did nothing to put a needle in the arm” of an American. In February, Vice President Harris said the Biden administration was “starting from scratch” in many ways. And, Jeff Zients, of the administration’s COVID-19 task force, recently commented that the Trump administration has “no plan” to vaccinate Americans. The overall performance of the Biden administration’s COVID-19 response in its first 100 days, averaging over 75,000 cases per day and over 1,700 deaths per day, has been less effective than the year in which the Trump administration oversaw the response (~ 60,000 and ~ 1,100, per day, respectively). As of January 20, 2021, there were approximately 24.5 million total COVID cases and 405,000 deaths in the United States. It was a year after the start of the pandemic. In the first 100 days of the Biden administration, we added 7.8 million cases (32.3 million total) and 170,000 deaths (575,000 total). So much for extinguishing the virus. In addition, as of May 1, nearly 70 million of the 310 million doses of vaccine distributed are inactive at U.S. vaccination sites. We have been criticized for having less than a tenth of that number of inactive vaccines. These are inconvenient facts, so they are unlikely to be heard from MSNBC or CNN. Obviously, President Biden is learning that it is more difficult to govern than to campaign. Many in the media attribute the success of the OWS to some kind of miracle, a deus ex machina introduced to unravel the mysteries of vaccine development and manufacture. In fact, the success of OWS depended on exceptional leadership, deliberate strategy and rigorous execution. OWS was conceived in Spring 2020 by Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, a former executive of a pharmaceutical company who deeply understood the motivations, risk tolerance and complexities of development, manufacturing and drug distribution. It was immediately adopted by President Trump, who ensured that we had the financial resources, attention, talent and government support necessary to be successful. Shortly after, we added a number of other outstanding leaders: Dr Moncef Slaoui, the most accomplished vaccine developer of our generation, Generals Perna, Ostrowski and Sharpsten of the Army Logistics Command, and Carlo de Notaristefani, a prominent pharmaceutical manufacturing expert, Dr Francis Collins of the National Institutes of Health, who oversaw the clinical trials, and Jared Kushner as our White House liaison. This country owes the vaccines we have to this leadership team. The OWS strategy required the US government to assume the financial risk associated with manufacturing the vaccines. Normally, large-scale vaccine manufacturing only takes place after its developer has received FDA approval. In the midst of a global pandemic, this was unacceptable. Thus, from the summer of 2020, we have funded the manufacture of up to 3 billion vaccines, several months before a vaccine receives an emergency use authorization (EUA). When the Biden administration “secures” more doses, it is enough to hit the “replenishment button” on the options of the contracts we established last year. The OWS strategy has also been to select a small “portfolio” of the best vaccines from 114 candidate vaccines. Could the candidate go through phase three clinical trials fast enough? Would it be effective in people over 65? Could it be manufactured on a scale such that we would have tens of millions of doses by the first half of 2021? Dr Slaoui chose six candidates from three technological platforms, five of which meet or will soon meet all of these criteria. However, the simple selection of vaccines was insufficient. Success demanded leaders like Dr. Collins, who led multiple clinical trials, comprised of tens of thousands of Americans, allowing them to be completed in record time and with sufficient experimental diversity. Due to the disproportionate impact of COVID on the elderly and some minorities, we wanted to make sure the vaccine was valid in these groups. Thus, we were targeting 25% of participants over 65, 10% black and 10% Hispanic. Carlo de Notaristefani and his teams had to set up, or expand, 23 separate manufacturing plants in seven months. This included obtaining equipment, raw materials and labor. Dr Bob Kadlec, the assistant secretary for preparedness and response, had to secure a billion needles and syringes, as well as tens of millions of vials, and started doing so in March 2020. We have used the Defense Production Act 18 times to ensure appropriate priority was assigned to these vital tasks. When the Biden administration claimed that its use of that authority would be something different, that simply wasn’t true. He only used DPA once in the first 100 days. When the Biden administration says we had no plan to vaccinate Americans, it insults every career CDC manager, every governor and mayor in the 64 public health jurisdictions we designed, and every health official. state, county, and city-level public authorities in the United States Working with these professionals, we developed a national operational plan and 64 micro-plans. Each has been examined, evaluated and scored. Another outstanding area of performance was vaccine distribution and administration, for which Generals Perna, Ostrowski and Sharpsten, along with CDC leaders such as Dr Anita Patel, organized the best of the private sector. McKesson, UPS, FedEx, CVS Health and Walgreens were among our first partners. We ultimately registered and electronically linked over 40,000 pharmacies, thousands of community health centers and thousands of hospitals, all of which are well used today. We have developed Tiberius, the most sophisticated vaccine tracking system ever. By the end of February 2021, just two months after the launch, nearly every 15,000 nursing home residents in the United States had had the opportunity to receive two doses of the vaccine. UPS and FedEx have maintained a record of over 99.99% on-time deliveries, to the right destinations, without compromising extremely stringent storage and delivery requirements. On the last day of our tenure alone, the CDC reported over 1.5 million Americans newly vaccinated. Admittedly, there were uncertainties during the first few weeks of vaccine administration. We were entering the holiday season (EUAs Pfizer and Moderna were granted on December 14 and 21 respectively). We could not have predicted that about 30 percent of frontline healthcare workers and about 50 percent of nursing home workers would refuse vaccination. But we adapted quickly, and on January 12, CDC Secretary Azar and Dr Robert Redfield announced that we would expand the eligibility criteria and expand access sites for vaccine administration. Despite comments from the Biden administration suggesting that we “didn’t have a plan,” we are flattered that the Biden administration has in fact adopted nearly 100% of the Trump administration’s plan. The only difference is the FEMA-led mass vaccination sites, which administered less than 2% of our vaccines. The people of Biden laugh at Trump dog food at night, but the bowl is always empty in the morning. The administrative staff at Biden have done an outstanding job in fulfilling the OWS mission. We “handed the baton” to them and they ran with it. No one is happier with this success than President Trump and his OWS team. One has to wonder, however, why the people at Biden and the media so vigorously and without sincerity denigrate our accomplishments, while refusing to pay tribute to the few leaders who have assembled under President Trump’s leadership on behalf of the many. This behavior represents the worst of politics, a lack of executive presence and, most importantly, a missed opportunity to unify Americans. If we cannot celebrate this example of American exceptionalism as a united people, then what can bring us together?