The first doses of an FDA-authorized Covid-19 vaccine have been delivered to all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, a little after a year the disease was first discovered in China, officials reported on Monday. It’s been a little under a year since the disease hit U.S. shores, but the effect has been devastating, creating an urgency for a solution.
Operation Warp Speed (OWS), a public-private effort, has been working with shipping companies FedEx and UPS to transfer the newly developed Pfizer vaccine in less than a year. The delivery started transport on Sunday, December 13th and completed all first-day vaccine deliveries.
Operation Warp Speed’s goal is to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines with the initial doses available by January 2021, as part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics (collectively known as countermeasures).
This is news many have been waiting for, especially after the death toll in the U.S. tops 300,000. The US also recorded 110,549 current Covid-19 hospitalizations on December 14th, setting a new record high since the pandemic began, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
The first person also received one of the first doses of the vaccine on Monday.
US Surgeon General Jerome Adams called the rollout of the vaccine “tremendous.”
“This is just tremendous and I’m smiling bigger than I’ve smiled in a long time because it has been a hard year for so many people out there, including me personally,” Adams told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer. “Today we really did get a shot of hope.”
OWS is a partnership among components of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), and the Department of Defense (DoD). OWS engages with private firms and other federal agencies, including the Department of Veterans Affairs. It will coordinate existing HHS-wide efforts, including the NIH’s Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV) partnership, NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, and work by BARDA.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and Acting Defense Secretary Christopher Miller oversee OWS, with Dr. Moncef Slaoui designated as chief advisor and General Gustave F. Perna confirmed as the chief operating officer of OWS. To allow these OWS leaders to focus on operational work, in the near future the program will be announcing separate points of contact, with deep expertise and involvement in the program, for communication with Congress and the public.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned that Americans should not think the arrival of a vaccine means the end of the pandemic.
“I don’t believe we’re going to be able to