When President Donald Trump said he was aiming to have a vaccine for the Wuhan coronavirus by the end of the year, the media laughed, thinking there was no way that he would be able to make that come to fruition.
But with Operation Warp Speed, a unique combination of public and private partnership, he made it happen, at truly historic speed.
According to Nature, the fastest that any vaccine had previously been developed from viral sampling to approval was four years, for mumps in the 1960s.
Nothing beats a picture for really getting a topic and here’s one Nature did that shows how remarkable this all is.
— Eric Topol (@EricTopol) December 22, 2020
Not only does that translate to helping us out now with the virus and saving thousands of lives, but Warp Speed has shown what such a public/private partnership can make happen for the future.
The COVID-19 experience will almost certainly change the future of vaccine science, says Dan Barouch, director of the Center for Virology and Vaccine Research at Harvard Medical School in Boston, Massachusetts. “It shows how fast vaccine development can proceed when there is a true global emergency and sufficient resources,” he says. New ways of making vaccines, such as by using messenger RNA (mRNA), have been validated by the COVID-19 response, he adds. “It has shown that the development process can be accelerated substantially without compromising on safety.”
The world was able to develop COVID-19 vaccines so quickly because of years of previous research on related viruses and faster ways to manufacture vaccines, enormous funding that allowed firms to run multiple trials in parallel, and regulators moving more quickly than normal. Some of those factors might translate to other vaccine efforts, particularly speedier manufacturing platforms.
That funding and regulator part was because of Warp Speed. They also benefited from research done previously on coronaviruses as well as on the DNA and RNA research on vaccines that has been going on for more than 20 years.
Human testing requires three phases that involve increasing numbers of people and proportionately escalating costs. The COVID-19 vaccines went through the same trials, but the billions poured into the process made it possible for companies to take financial risks by running some tests at the same time [….]
With large sums given to vaccine firms by public funders and private philanthropists, “they could do preclinical and phase I, II and III trials, as well as manufacturing, in parallel instead of sequentially”, says Rino Rappuoli, chief scientist at GlaxoSmithKline’s vaccines division in Siena, Italy. This meant that companies could gamble on starting large-scale testing and manufacturing of candidates that might not work out. “It was totally de-risking the entire development process,” says Kampmann.
If Trump were Barack Obama or Joe Biden, he’d be lauded by the media for this. He’d likely win a Nobel for that alone.
Instead media completely glosses over the remarkable response and continues to push the fiction that Trump didn’t respond and you get petty tweets like this from WaPo’s Glen Kessler. Doesn’t matter how fast it was, when you have TDS.
Trump in his campaign rallies repeatedly promised a 100 million vaccine doses by end of 2020. Three days left for 98 million doses. https://t.co/EnVHslR0sn
— Glenn Kessler (@GlennKesslerWP) December 28, 2020