Enlli Lewis, Regulatory Policy and Research Coordinator at 1Day Sooner
The United States’ Operation Warp Speed is one of the most successful government-led initiatives in recent memory. In the spring of 2020, the $18 billion public-private partnership was announced to accelerate the development and subsequent production of vaccines against COVID-19. Within 8 months of the program’s announcement, on December 11, the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine was authorized .
Despite the incredible achievement of these vaccines, COVID-19 continues to pose a substantial problem three years later. In the face of emerging variants there is a desperate need for better vaccines with broader, more durable protection. In response, scientists have been developing next-generation COVID-19 vaccines that will afford broader protection and reduce transmission, in the form of pan-COVID and intranasal COVID-19 vaccines. However, the progress on the development of these vaccines has been unnecessarily slow, especially in comparison to the original Operation Warp Speed vaccines.
In light of this, 1Day Sooner has been working on an Operation Warp Speed 2.0 campaign, which aims to imitate the mechanisms developed during Operation Warp Speed to accelerate the future progress of next-generation COVID-19 vaccines.
1Day’s Josh Morrison addresses the audience at the Operation Warp Speed 2 conference.
To gain a better understanding of what made Operation Warp Speed successful and how it could be replicated for future use, 1Day Sooner, in collaboration with Paul Mango, Institute for Progress, and the Federation of American Scientists held an Operation Warp Speed 2.0 conference in D.C. on November 17, 2022.
Speakers included Operation Warp Speed principals Alex Azar, Moncef Slaoui, Peter Marks, Carlo De Notaristefani, Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, Paul Mango and Bob Kadlec. Attendees were a diverse mix of policymakers, researchers, Hill staffers, industry leaders, and academics.
The conference included lessons learned from key Warp Speed principles, panel discussions on how to institutionalize in the federal government approaches that were successful in Warp Speed to help address other challenges, and how might an “Operation Warp Speed 2.0” be implemented to accelerate the development of next-generation COVID-19 vaccines.
Key insights from the conference included: the critical role of market shaping incentives for accelerating vaccine development; the importance of having a broad portfolio of vaccine candidates to increase the likelihood of a successful vaccine; how the FDA succeeded in expediting the authorization of COVID-19 vaccines, while also attaining higher safety standards than usual; and how scaling manufacturing and deployment capabilities far in advance of confirmation that a vaccine was safe and effective meant that vaccines were administered as quickly as possible.
One of the biggest lessons from the conference was the remarkable economic benefits of Operation Warp Speed and how cost effective it is to prepare for future pandemics. At the height of the pandemic, 1 trillion dollars a month was lost globally as a result of COVID-19. If Operation Warp Speed brought forward wide spread vaccine coverage by 12 hours it was cost effective.
We believe the conference succeeded in cultivating an environment of learning and action, which we hope will foster future collaborations. 1Day Sooner will be publishing an Operation Warp Speed 2.0 White Paper in the new year, which will include our policy recommendations for accelerating the progress of next-generation COVID-19 vaccines.