Day 1,440: ‘Operation Warp Speed’ now moving at a snail’s pace

2 min readDec 30, 2020


Donald Trump dubbed the public-private partnership to get a COVID-19 vaccine developed, manufactured and distributed Operation Warp Speed.

Despite OWS, however, vaccines were created outside the program (Pfizer) at the same rate as those inside the program (Moderna). Still, the development and approval of highly effective vaccines in under a year was a tremendous accomplishment for the doctors and scientists who spent long hours and sleepless nights getting it right.

But the Trump administration has seemingly been caught totally off guard by the “distribution” part of OWS.

First, they turned down the chance to buy 100 million more doses of the Pfizer vaccine. The failure may delay the additional doses of a huge chunk of the American population for six or more months.

Pfizer is now negotiating with the Trump administration to provide more vaccine doses, but the company cannot guarantee that it will deliver more than the initial 100 million before the summer, per the NYT.

In terms of how many doses the administration has versus how many they promised, the numbers are ever-changing, but have steadily plummeted from projections.

While the coronavirus pandemic continued to surge throughout the summer and fall, federal government officials repeatedly offered a ray of hope: enough vaccine doses to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of December.

One count, from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shows about 11.4 million doses have been distributed as of Monday morning and about 2.1 million have been administered — not even close to the goal Warp Speed originally set.

In October — perhaps not coincidentally, just weeks before the 2020 election — the HHS secretary, Alex Azar, claimed 100 million Americans could receive the vaccine by the end of the year.

Once vaccines arrive, states are left to fend for themselves on their paltry budgets with regard to the distribution and prioritization of the vaccine. With no real answers, states are passing the buck to individual providers and making them figure it out.

The Trump administration seemed more interested in having an exciting nickname — Trump seems to revel every time he mentions it publicly — than it did actually doing what was necessary to move a vaccine from creation through implementation. That’s painfully obvious post-election.

The program has slowed dramatically, as the distribution of the vaccine will take many months longer than it should have at tremendously higher cost — both financially and in loss of life.

1,440 days in, 22 to go

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