As promised, President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed has produced a viable COVID-19 vaccine in record time. The distribution of two vaccines – one manufactured by Pfizer, Inc. and the other by Moderna, Inc. – is expected to begin before the end of the year.
Late-stage clinical trials show the Pfizer vaccine is more than 90% effective in preventing COVID-19 and the Moderna vaccine is 94.5% effective.
“These are obviously very exciting results,” says Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top COVID-19 expert. “It’s just as good as it gets – 94.5% is truly outstanding.” Earlier this year, Fauci said he would be happy with a vaccine that was just 60% effective.
With President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed spurring wartime-like production levels of syringes and other materials, we can expect to have as many as 1 billion doses available within the coming months (far more than enough to treat our population of 330 million).
COVID-19 vaccinations could begin as early as mid-December and will be provided free of cost to all Americans regardless of insurance. Vaccinations will begin with high-risk groups including healthcare workers, the elderly, and individuals with existing respiratory problems. Both vaccines require two doses that are administered several weeks apart.
According to Dr. Fauci, it will probably take until the spring or summer of next year before low-risk individuals are able to receive the vaccine.
“We are going to have a vaccine that can stop COVID-19,” promises Stephen Hoge, President of Moderna. “Assuming we get an emergency use authorization, we’ll be ready to ship through Warp Speed almost in hours…So it could start being distributed instantly.”
Moderna plans to apply for emergency use authorization by the end of November and will seek additional authorization to use its vaccine in Europe. The World Health Organization, which President-elect Biden plans to rejoin, has already promised to purchase doses of the American-made vaccines for use in poor countries.
Russia and China have already begun wide-scale treatment with their own experimental vaccines.
To date, COVID-19 has infected 54 million people worldwide and killed 1.3 million, including 11 million infections and 250,000 deaths in the United States. News of the two vaccines comes during yet another surge in infections that was likely prompted by colder temperatures.
Both vaccines utilize a first-of-its-kind innovation that builds on discoveries made during the MERS outbreak in 2012. The vaccines utilize messenger RNA (mRNA) to teach healthy cells how to identify and defend against COVID-19 invaders.
The key difference between the two vaccines is that Pfizer’s requires ultra-cold storage (roughly -100° F) and expires after just 5 days. Moderna’s vaccine requires traditional refrigeration (36-48° F) and can be stored for up to 6 months. Both vaccines carry mild side effects including general aches and pains and fatigue.
It is still unclear how long the effects of the vaccines will last.
Author’s Note: We now have two COVID-19 vaccines in the US. If they had announced the results a few weeks earlier, it may have helped Trump win the election. Even so, this is the fastest a vaccine has ever been developed and will remain a legacy of Trump’s presidency.