It’s all over the news that Operation Warp Speed did not meet its target of producing, distributing and administering at least 20 million doses prior to the end of 2020. According to the CDC Data Tracker, 12.4 million doses have been distributed and only 2.8 million administered as of 9:00 AM EST 30 December 2020. Since this data doesn’t take into account December 30 and December 31, as well as the likely reporting data lags, I’m sure significantly more than 2.8 million does were actually administered prior to us ushering in 2021. That said, I also tend to believe we are still way short of the planned 20 million.
However, I believe we should focus more on the 12.4 million doses produced and distributed aspect. It not only tells a better story, but I believe it is the metric that we need to keep the closest watch on. Yes, we have had glitches in administering the vaccine, but this is simply an artifact of ramping up any herculean effort such as this. I also believe the rate of vaccine administration will soon significantly exceed that of production and distribution, simply because of the many, many parallel efforts. Thus, I believe we will soon see a big surge in vaccines being administered; however, it will be short-lived and will slow down once the excess inventory is exhausted. The vaccine administration will then be driven by how quickly future batches are produced and distributed.
Thus, I admonish the news media to stop obsessing on how much lower 2.8 million is than 20 million. We can all do the math! Instead, I would very much like to hear more about current and anticipated vaccine production rates at the Pfizer and Moderna manufacturing sites. Insight into current production yields should also give us a good sense of opportunity to increase these production rates as the respective manufacturing processes are further fine tuned and perfected. I strongly believe that the combined production rates is what will actually drive the timeline to cycle through all the priority groups and reach that coveted end state of having the vaccine available to anyone who wants it.
An even bigger overlooked aspect of Warp Speed is the safety and efficacy of the vaccines. With 94+% significantly exceeding the goal of 70% efficacious (FDA’s threshold was originally only 50%) coupled with it causing no known serious side effects in its trial participants, I tend to view the quality of both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines as far exceeding Warp Speed’s original objectives. After all, don’t we tend to usually desire quality over quantity? Well, that’s exactly what Warp Speed delivered!
And now I’m going to rant about a couple more things:
- We need to crack down on anti-maskers immediately, as each one has the potential of (unknowingly) becoming a serial killer by spreading this horrific disease onto others. Nearly all states have tough DUI laws, and for good reason. This is because drunk drivers kill. However, a single DUI-related death usually involves a small number of people and cars. However, one unmasked asymptomatic carrier has the potential of infecting many people, which in turn, will infect more, thereby setting off a huge chain reaction. I am not about to trivialize drunk driving because it really is a big problem. However, people out in public without masks pose a much larger threat. So why are we treating it with so much less urgency? Besides, if we all wore our masks and social distanced as recommended from the get go, that would have also saved a large number of business that have since failed due to the lockdowns and restrictions.
- I also believe skilled nursing facilities should exercise their right to refuse employment to anyone who refuses the vaccine. Otherwise, what’s the point in vaccinating the vulnerable if we exempt people around them who might endanger them by contracting the virus? The elderly often have compromised immune systems that may not respond as well to the vaccine as their care providers, thereby rendering them more susceptible to the virus. I am also astounded that so many educated people are refusing the vaccine. In the combined Pfizer and Moderna trials, nearly 40,000 received both doses of the vaccine, and no one had a serious reaction! Yet people are getting sick and dying of COVID-19 left and right! Personally, I see much less risk in the vaccine than in COVID-19 itself. Hence, I would like to understand what these naysayers are thinking. As a telecommuter, I am at low risk of contracting COVID-19, yet I will definitely and joyfully receive the vaccine on the day it becomes available to me/my priority group.
- I was very disappointed to hear that the Pfizer and Moderna vaccine trial participants who received the placebo haven’t yet been given their first dose of the “real” vaccine and may have to wait until March to receive it. Yes, many are young/healthy and in low-risk groups, but they took on a HUGE risk by subjecting themselves to an unknown substance that could have easily caused permanent damage or death had something gone wrong. (Thank God nothing did go wrong.) If it weren’t for their selflessness and bravery, no one would be receiving a vaccine today! Thus, from an all-about-justice standpoint, I strongly believe that this group of less than 40,000 people should have been amongst the very first to receive the vaccine upon FDA EUA. It would have been the least we could have done as a society to express our heartfelt gratitude for putting themselves in harms way in order to protect the rest of us from harm.
Now to end on a positive note: I am not only fully confident that Operation Warp Speed successfully produced the vaccines that will soon put an end to this pandemic, but the technologies developed will soon have many more far-reaching benefits. I’m already hearing rumblings from the medical community that the new mRNA technology might be instrumental in preventing certain types of cancer, the common cold, autoimmune diseases including Multiple Sclerosis/Muscular dystrophy/Type 1 Diabetes, plus a myriad of other ailments. Thus, as is often the case with other inherently bad situations, I believe goodness will eventually come out of this terrible COVID-19 pandemic, and that we will end up much better off than we were before it started.