Operation Warp Speed: Vaccine Update

On November 24th, Army Major-General Christopher Sharpsten, OWS Director of Supple & Distribution, provided the latest available vaccine information on a group call with the nation’s Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army for their information, as well as for distribution to our respective communities.  Here, then, are key bullet points from that timely presentation.

*The first two promising Covid-19 vaccines (out of six current candidates) have, in record time, successfully completed the required trials, and within 24-hours of approval by the FDA, vaccine distribution nationwide will begin.  Target date is early December.

*DoD-centered “Operation Warp Speed” took a “whole of America approach” to this unprecedented vaccine development, to include “fusion mentality” participation by DoD, of course, but also HHS, American industry, and academic specialists.

*Of the six vaccine candidates at present, Pfizer and Moderna are the two said to be officially primed for distribution.  Important to note: both will require two shots, with 3-weeks and 4-weeks, respectively, between each injection.

*Distribution will be managed by the CDC.  The company selected to actually handle the nationwide distribution of the vaccines and administering kits (needles, shields, etc.) is McKesson Corporation, a well-known U.S. company long involved in the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

*McKesson has sub-contracted with UPS and FedEx to fly/truck the vaccine shipments directly to the pre-determined state, territorial, and major city principal administration sites.  To date, Walgreens and CVS are the administration facilities under contract, with other pharmacy chains currently in the active process of being secured.

*With concern about vaccine shipments being in conflict with heightened holiday shopping/shipping loads, the government has already secured “premier service” from the two carriers to ensure that the vaccine shipments maintain timely priority.  Critical in that both vaccines must be shipped (air/truck), and then maintained on-site, at extremely low temperatures.  Fortunately, given the time of year, the vaccine containers and their related administering kit shipments are said to actually take up comparatively modest space for transport.

*For the initial huge national roll-out of the vaccines, there will be no charge to citizens for the injections.  Administration sites (i.e., Walgreens, CVS, et.al.) will be paid by the government $16.00 per injection given.  And smart thinking…since both current vaccines require a second shot, as an incentive to the administrating sites to make certain that their recipients return for that mandatory second round, the site compensation for the second shot goes up to $28.00 per.

*Public priority groupings for injections have been set by the CDC.  First: Healthcare workers.  Second: Other essential workers (presume public safety, etc.).  Third: Elderly and those with co-morbidities.  No further groupings mentioned during the presentation beyond those three.  DoD has set its own tiered priorities for military service injection recipients, with those involved with healthcare likely and understandably to be at the top of their list.

*Apart from the formal presentation and on a totally personal note, thanks from our nation to President Trump for realizing, early-on, that masks, distancing, and hand sanitizers alone weren’t going to effectively enable Americans to over-come the deadly virus threat. He knew that a vaccine would be necessary. And to that end, he ordered DoD to establish “Operation Warp Speed” to drive and coordinate the development of safe and effective vaccines within, as it turns out, in an unheard-of record time.  Despite the carping along the way from opposition others with no clue or answers, the credit, and the legacy, for this astounding public health achievement goes to President Trump’s Administration.

Among our abundant blessings, then, the availability of these life-saving vaccines, to be administered to all Americans in the weeks & months ahead, really do provide us with yet another blessing, one for which we can all be truly grateful, on this Thanksgiving Day, and well beyond.