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Operation Warp Speed Leader Provides Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Delivery

Dec. 23, 2020 | BY DAVID VERGUN , DOD News

Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, briefed the media today on the progress of COVID-19 vaccine delivery.

37:45

This week, 7.9 million doses of Pfizer-BioNTech's vaccine were allocated for delivery. By tomorrow, more than 7.8 million will have been delivered, he said. 

Next week's allocation is 4.67 million doses, with 2.67 million coming from Pfizer-BioNTech and 2 million from Moderna, he said.

By the end of the year, 20 million doses of vaccine will have been delivered, Perna said.

A sailor gets a shot in the arm from medical personnel.
Vaccine Distribution
Navy Seaman Ezequiel Vega receives the COVID-19 vaccine at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 21, 2020, as part of Operation Warp Speed. The national initiative accelerates the development, production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
Photo By: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Sarah Villegas
VIRIN: 201221-N-YG104-0006C
Two vials of COVID-19 vaccine sit on a white surface.
Vaccine Ready
Vials of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine are at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020, following the vaccine's emergency use authorization by the Food and Drug Administration.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 201214-D-BN624-0871C

Every day, OWS is compiling lessons learned, he said, to become even more efficient as time goes by at quality control and volume and scale of packing and delivery, he noted.

"We're learning. We're getting better, and every day we're getting stronger," he said. "We're in a steady drumbeat of continuous vaccine delivery. We want it to be even smoother every single day.

"We are working with the states in collaboration to make sure that we have a continuous contact with everybody who's receiving the vaccine, so that we can make sure that they know when the package is arriving or if the package will be late," Perna said. "We're confirming and always getting better at development of addresses to ensure that we know the right places to go to, and there's no delay there. 

A soldier wearing a mask holds the COVID-19 vaccine.
Vaccine Prep
Army Spc. Ying Chen, a New York National Guardsman, prepares a dosage of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Camp Smith Training Site Medical Readiness Clinic, N.Y., Dec. 18, 2020. The New York National Guard is administering 44,000 doses of the Pfizer vaccine to front line medical personnel at 16 locations around the world as part of a pilot program.
Photo By: Army Staff Sgt. Jonathan Pietrantoni
VIRIN: 201218-A-JN745-069M

"And we continue to grow in our efforts with the long-term care facilities as we help them administer shots in volume, really a terrific effort. And as we operationalize that task, we get better every day," he added. 

Perna gave a shout-out to delivery services UPS and FedEx and pharmacies Walgreens and CVS for their efficient efforts. "We went with them because they are the best, and they know how to do this."

Earlier today, the Pentagon issued a press release, which stated the Department of Health and Human Services and the Defense Department announced an agreement with pharmaceutical company Merck to support advanced development and large-scale manufacturing of their investigational therapeutic MK-7110 to treat hospitalized patients with severe or critical COVID-19.

A sailor’s gloved hand extracting liquid from a vial.
Vaccine Prep
Navy Seaman Milan Torres prepares a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to be administered to a patient at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., Dec. 14, 2020.
Photo By: Lisa Ferdinando, DOD
VIRIN: 201214-D-BN624-0823C

The investigational therapeutic is a promising first-in-class fusion protein and immune modulator. Immune modulators have the potential to minimize the damaging effects of an overactive immune response to COVID-19. This overactive response can contribute to the severity of the illness.

"Our agreement with Merck is the latest example of how industry and government are coming together under Operation Warp Speed to move potential therapeutics all the way from development through to manufacturing, enabling faster distribution," HHS Secretary Alex Azar said.