Many of the steps we have taken to physically and economically combat COVID-19 have received widespread coverage, such as social distancing, wearing of masks, and quarantining.
The most critical measure, however, has largely been going on behind the scenes and deserves our attention. Developing a vaccine for COVID-19 is the only way to defeat the virus, potentially helping billions of people worldwide.
Vaccine development has been a top priority of our COVID response, with Congress and President Trump working together on several important actions made possible by the CARES Act. This effort, known as Operation Warp Speed, mobilized early funding appropriated by Congress to create a key, new partnership between government agencies such as the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Center for Disease Control (CDC), the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and private companies. The ultimate goal is to develop and distribute vaccines by the end of the year while maintaining our nation’s top safety standards.
Operation Warp Speed provides the fastest possible route to a safe, effective vaccine by ensuring it receives top priority consideration by all involved parties. Any new development toward a COVID vaccine will move to the front of the line for FDA approval. Usually, companies must wait months, or even years, in this approval process line, which can be further slowed by paperwork delays and other regulatory bottlenecks. Companies working on COVID vaccines have been able to complete multiple steps in the development process simultaneously, instead of waiting for each step to be completed sequentially. This means work can be done on manufacturing and distribution logistics while the potential vaccine is going through the normal approval process, potentially saving huge amounts of time. Meanwhile, with funds appropriated by Congress, the administration is establishing manufacturing lines in advance of approval and preordering hundreds of millions of vaccine doses to ensure the fastest possible rollout of vaccines to the public.
The CARES Act incentivized American companies to lead the way in a worldwide race to find a vaccine. Incentivizing not one company but many to strive for the vaccine helps ensure the American way of competition to ultimately obtain the best result. Progress is being made and we are even seeing some vaccine candidates at the clinical trial phase with adult volunteers. It is inspiring to see the innovation potential of American pharmaceutical companies showcased for the world. We must continue to unleash our capacity for innovation.
We are all in this fight together and I appreciate the leadership shown by President Trump. American ingenuity can once again change the world as we know it – this time by eradicating COVID-19.
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