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Operation Warp Speed's Lessons for the Biden Administration

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Operation Warp Speed was a historic triumph of the private sector serving a public need. Incredibly, in less than a year’s time, American companies partnered with the federal government to produce highly effective products that have sharply driven down the number of COVID-related hospitalizations and deaths. Just as American manufacturers supplied the arsenal of democracy to win World War II, America’s pharmaceutical companies are providing vaccines to defeat the virus. As the Biden administration and public health authorities strive to conquer the pandemic, there were some particularly helpful lessons that I learned as a founding member of Operation Warp Speed.

So far, approximately 51% of the total population – 169 million people – has been fully vaccinated as of Aug. 18. But momentum has slowed down, and public health authorities are rightly trying to determine the best approaches to encourage unvaccinated Americans to get jabbed. There are also questions of what to do to prevent and prepare for the next pandemic.

First, recognize that the reach of the federal government plus the power of the private sector rapidly produces the best results. Republicans often say the private sector can solve everyone’s problems; Democrats look to government. At Operation Warp Speed we looked to the best of both. In the planning stages of OWS, some members of our team conceived of it as a “Manhattan Project” for vaccines.........

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