Getting the facts right on Operation Warp Speed

It should be emphasized that OWS was launched to almost universal skepticism and even scorn. At the time of OWS’s launch in Spring 2020, a strong consensus prevailed among media, public-health experts, consultants, and betting markets that regulatory approval by the end of 2020 and the accelerated delivery of 300 million doses were unrealistic goals. Consider some typical examples:

The June 6, 2020 issue of the medical journal Lancet opined that “on average, it takes 10 years to develop a vaccine. With the COVID-19 crisis looming, everyone is hoping that this time will be different. Although many infectious disease experts argue … even 18 months for a first vaccine is an incredibly aggressive schedule.”

The federal government’s top COVID advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, joined the skeptics: In February 2020 and again in April 2020 he predicted that a year to a year and a half would be required for vaccine approval — versus the half year that was actually required.

The media echoed general skepticism about OWS in the Spring of 2020. Vanity Fair in its May 28, 2020 edition characterized OWS “as dangerous and likely to fail.” CNN complained that OWS neglected “tried and true” procedures for vaccine development in favor of new and untested methods.