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Some of the leading companies in the race for the vaccine are already submitting their marketing applications in Europe and the USA. Photo: Istock
Some of the leading companies in the race for the vaccine are submitting their distribution applications for Europe and the USA. Photo: Istock

Operation Warp Speed: How the U.S. government plans to have the Covid vaccine in early 2021

Some of the main companies in the race for a vaccine have presented their distribution applications in Europe and the USA.

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The race for a COVID-19 vaccine presents geopolitical intricacies, promises of a new economic or global panorama, and particular engineering and scientific challenges of the 21st century.

But among the inconveniences amplified by political lies and cyber attacks on companies, the leaders in the race are advancing their vaccines little by little, as in the case with Moderna, which has requested authorization from the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

First Steps

The request happened in the span of a few weeks, when Moderna, along with other companies like Pfizer and AstraZeneca announced very positive results in the third clinical trial phase of experimentation.

Moderna announced effectiveness of 94%, compared to 95% for the Russian Sputnik V vaccine and 95% for Pfizer's.

The main medical advancement of all vaccines this time around is how they work with messenger RNA proteins rather than inject a weakened version of COVID-19 for the development of antibodies. All are expected to slow down the pandemic's progress, which has already infected 65 million people and left more than 1.5 million dead. Normally, the development of a vaccine would take years, but the global effort has sped the process up exponentially.

Operation Warp Speed

Of the 163 official vaccine candidates, two are slated to be selected for mass production.

In the U.S., the mass production and distribution plan is Operation Warp Speed. Launched in May as a partnership of the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense, and the private sector, the initial goal was to administer 300 million doses of a vaccine by January 2021.

As vaccines developed over time, the new mark of success will be generating 100 million doses by mid-2021. However, there is still a lot on the table because of its sheer size. The COVID-19 vaccine effort is a project without comparison in the history of humanity — a global effort to stop a pandemic whose rate of spread is greater than any known virus.

Not only will it require new transport routes and significant energy depending on the temperature it must be transported at, it will also require unprecedented global coordination to avoid false vaccines entering circulation and further speculation.

If there has been any doubt about the human capacity to redirect the fate of the Earth in recent years, this exercise in logistical terraforming will show whether a change through human action is possible. Leaders across the world maintain a cautious hope, knowing that future finances depend on the vaccine.

In command

The person in charge of the vaccine distribution efforts in the United States in 2021 is Dr. Moncef Slaoui. He detailed his strategy in The New England Journal of Medicine, which is based on selecting the two most promising candidates, accelerating their development without compromising safety, efficacy or quality, and finally supporting the companies financially and technically to prepare for mass production.

Among the vaccine candidates under consideration is Moderna's, but the U.S. has also announced partnerships with Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Novavax, and Sanofi/GSK.

The public figurehead of the coronavirus fight in the U.S., Dr. Anthony Fauci, declared that by the end of the year, the safest and most effective options could be outlined. The result is that at least, the first doses could be quickly allocated to at-risk populations, leaving the massive distribution campaigns for later in 2021.

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