Coronavirus: Operation Warp Speed FAQ

DOD is collaborating closely with public and private sector partners to provide an unprecedented response to the coronavirus outbreak. Our crucial support includes assistance for the accelerated development and rapid distribution of a safe, effective vaccine or vaccines and therapeutics for COVID-19. Below is information on this whole-of-government vaccine effort.


Question: What is OWS?

Answer:Operation Warp Speed (OWS) is a public and private sector effort, led by the U.S. federal government, to develop and deliver 300 million doses of a safe, effective vaccine for COVID-19 by January 2021.

Question: Who is involved with OWS?

Answer: OWS is a collaboration between the Department of Health and Human Services – including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) – and the Department of Defense. OWS also engages with the private sector, academia, research institutions, other federal departments and agencies, and state, local and tribal governments.

Question: What organization or individual is leading OWS?

Answer: HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Defense Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper oversee OWS, with Dr. Moncef Slaoui designated as the chief science advisor, and Gen. Gustave F. Perna confirmed as the chief operating officer.

Question: How much is already invested in this effort?

Answer: Congress directed almost $10 billion for OWS, through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. That amount includes more than $6.5 billion designated for countermeasure development through BARDA and $3 billion for NIH research.

Question: Will OWS rely on foreign manufacturers or raw materials to produce the vaccine or materials necessary to deliver the vaccine?

Answer: The federal government is investing in increasing domestic manufacturing capacity at its own risk to assist with development and faster distribution of an eventual vaccine. This includes expansion of domestic manufacturing and supplies of specialized materials and resources, such as glass vials, necessary for distribution and administration of vaccines.

Question: Why is DOD involved with a vaccine effort?

Answer: DOD's unique capabilities in support of HHS will enable faster distribution and administration than would have otherwise been possible. To that end, Gen. Gustave F. Perna is the OWS chief operating officer responsible for coordination of planning, logistics, security and assurance, supply chain development, and manufacturing in support of OWS.

Question: Who will get access to the vaccine first?

Answer: OWS will collaborate with the CDC to develop the plans and infrastructure for distribution before the vaccine is approved or authorized. The CDC-recommended allocation policy will likely involve a tiered approach based on methodologies developed as part of pandemic flu planning and adjusted based on the COVID-19 response data on the virus and its impact on diverse populations and the performance of a given countermeasure. DOD will support the CDC to distribute any FDA authorized or approved vaccines as directed.

Question: Will the vaccine developed by OWS be shared with other countries?

Answer: The U.S. government is committed to working with other countries friendly to our national security to ensure safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines are developed as fast as possible, however, the vaccine and therapeutic candidates OWS has invested in are the candidates OWS believes to be the most promising. Once the needs of the American people are met, utilization of remaining vaccines and therapeutics will be distributed as a matter of national policy.

Question: What will the individual vaccine cost U.S. citizens?

Answer: The U.S. government is committed to providing free or low-cost COVID-19 countermeasures to the American people, with the goal that any vaccine or therapeutic doses purchased with taxpayer dollars will be offered to the American people at no cost.


Latest Cure Progress

Operation Warp Speed

Using the resources of the federal government and the U.S. private sector, Operation Warp Speed (OWS) will accelerate the testing, supply, development, and distribution of safe and effective vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to counter COVID-19 by January 2021.


Latest Guidance and Information

Coronavirus: DOD Response

The Defense Department is working closely with the Department of Health and Human Services and the State Department to provide support in dealing with the coronavirus outbreak.