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60 Minutes: Inside the Operation Warp Speed effort to get Americans a COVID-19 vaccine


11.09.20

Operation Warp Speed (OWS) is harnessing the power of public and private partnerships to efficiently develop and manufacture vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics. Thanks to this extraordinary effort, each day we move closer to having vaccines ready to be delivered to the American people. Not only are there high safety standards for potential COVID-19 vaccines, but also high efficacy standards. Non-partisan experts will make the decision whether a vaccine meets those high standards based on science and facts alone. Today we received welcome news on the efficacy of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine in Phase III of their clinical trials. As The Wall Street Journal reported, “The vaccine proved to be more than 90% effective in the first 94 subjects who were infected by the new coronavirus and developed at least one symptom…”

Unfortunately, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY) has already attempted to cast doubt at this extraordinary effort, but this is nothing new. Governor Cuomo has chosen to politicize every part of this pandemic – from refusing to acknowledge his own deadly mistakes to threatening to withhold a safe and effective vaccine from New Yorkers for political gain. This is shameful, but E&C Republicans remain confident in the work of the scientists working around the clock to see us through this pandemic.

As CBS News’ 60 Minutes highlighted, Operation Warp Speed is focused on more than just producing a COVID-19 vaccine. A significant component of OWS is overseeing the logistics of delivering COVID-19 vaccines, and it is not that simple. Protecting the vaccines doses and keeping the vaccines at the right temperature are some of the challenges that Operation Warp Speed is already working to address. As General Gustave F. Perna, Chief Operating Officer of OWS, said they are ready “within 24 hours” of approval to start delivering the vaccine. In fact, OWS has already stockpiled doses of vaccines, as well as other materials needed for administering the vaccine like needles and alcohol swabs.

States and territories are also involved in COVID-19 vaccine logistics. Recently, jurisdictions’ vaccine plan executive summaries were published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), bringing even more transparency to a process that has already been unprecedented in its transparency.

Above all, people must have confidence in and take the vaccine once they have the opportunity. As Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR), Health Subcommittee Republican Leader Michael Burgess, M.D. (R-TX), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Republican Leader Brett Guthrie (R-KY) have written, when “…the FDA deems [COVID-19 vaccines] safe and effective, we will confidently get vaccinated, and we will encourage other Americans to do likewise. That’s how we can protect those most vulnerable from this vicious virus and get our way of life back once again.”

CBS News 60 Minutes
Inside the Operation Warp Speed effort to get Americans a COVID-19 vaccine
By David Martin
November 8, 2020

David Martin: What is D-Day?

General Gus Perna: Is the day that– we deliver the first round of vaccine– for Pfizer.

That’s when it would start to get complicated because if approved, the Pfizer vaccine will require patients to receive two separate shots – 21 days apart.

General Gus Perna: We know it’s a two-dose vaccine, so we want to ensure that we can manage the– the delivery of the first dose and ensure the delivery of the second dose– while we simultaneously integrate new rounds of doses being delivered to the American people.

In the Warp Speed operations center, Marion Whicker, who came from making tanks for the Army, showed us the go/no-go board for what parts of the country are ready to handle an ultra-cold vaccine.

Marion Whicker: The Virgin Islands has already reported in that they don’t have ultra-cold freezers. That’s okay. And that they don’t have an ability to dry ice. But what we do know is that we can very quickly move dry ice from Puerto Rico.

David Martin: The more I hear you talk, the bigger this operation gets.

Marion Whicker: Absolutely, sir.

David Martin: It’s not just delivering vaccine.

Marion Whicker: No. We wish it was that easy.

David Martin: Are you ready to go if a– vaccine is approved tomorrow?

General Gus Perna: Yes, we are.

David Martin: What’s the first order you’re going to give?

General Gus Perna: It’s a simple command of, “Execute.”

David Martin: So once you say, “Execute,” how fast does it get out there?

General Gus Perna: Within 24 hours.

David Martin: Do you have doses of vaccine already stockpiled?

General Gus Perna: Yes, we do.

David Martin: Are you worried about the security of the stockpiles?

General Gus Perna: We have taken extraordinary precaution in this area. . . Not only for maybe some nefarious effort but also natural – hurricanes, tornado, etc. right? It’s such a commodity to us we’re taking the full steps to make sure that the vaccine’s secure.

David Martin: Armed guards?

General Gus Perna: Yes.

Most of the vials will be shipped by the same companies that deliver packages to our homes every day.

Richard Smith: We’re prepared to deliver to every zip code in this country

Watch or read the full segment HERE.

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