Warp Speed: Inside the Operation That Beat COVID, the Critics, and the Odds

Warp Speed: Inside the Operation That Beat COVID, the Critics, and the Odds

Warp Speed: Inside the Operation That Beat COVID, the Critics, and the Odds

Warp Speed: Inside the Operation That Beat COVID, the Critics, and the Odds


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A powerful story of how our nation’s leaders overcame the odds, saving the American people from the throes of a deadly pandemic. The prior record for vaccine development and distribution was approximately 4.5 years. Operation Warp Speed got the COVID-19 vaccine to the American people in less than 10 months. Operation Warp Speed did not happen by accident. It was the result of exceptional leadership, explicit strategy, and unprecedented teamwork. Author Paul Mango, the foremost leader of Operation Warp Speed and the former deputy chief of US Health and Human Services, chronicles the challenges and real dangers of developing the vaccine. From the beginning, two lead scientists, Dr. Moncef Slaoui and Dr. Debra Birx, fought head to head on which vaccines had the greatest probability of success. Tensions grew as the Army Materiel Command and the Center for Disease Control debated on whether public health agencies or the private sector would take over vaccine distribution. Mango details the largest hurdle for the Operation Warp Speed team: though Pfizer, the first distribution company to deliver the mRNA vaccine, sought aid from the Federal Government, they refused the government’s request to oversee safe manufacturing of the vaccine, eventually leading to a major scandal as Pfizer missed its contractual obligation to deliver 40 million doses by the end of 2020, the number of positive cases reaching a frightening peak all the while. In this harrowing, behind-the-scenes account of the most successful public-private partnership since World War II, we learn how the nation’s biggest leaders accomplished the impossible. Through sheer will and exceptional commitment, a small group of leaders fulfilled its mission, making the United States the only country in the world which could offer a vaccine to any citizen by April 2021, scarcely 14 months after the genetic identification of the virus.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781645720546
Publisher: Republic Book Publishers
Publication date: 06/14/2022
Pages: 234
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Paul Mango was the Deputy Chief of Staff at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services during the conception, development, and implementation of Operation Warp Speed. He entered government service with close to 30 years experience as a healthcare industry executive and consultant transforming some of America’s largest organizations. Prior to this, he served as a field artillery officer in the 82nd Airborne Division. He is a graduate of West Point and the Harvard Business School. He lives with his wife in Jackson Hole, WY. Tom Cotton is a United States Senator from Arkansas. Tom sits on the Senate Committees on Armed Services, Intelligence, and Judiciary. Tom grew up on his family’s cattle farm in Yell County. After a clerkship with the U.S. Court of Appeals and private law practice, Tom left the law because of the September 11th attacks. Tom served in Iraq with the 101st Airborne and in Afghanistan with a Provincial Reconstruction Team. Between his two combat tours, Tom served with The Old Guard at Arlington National Cemetery. Tom is the author of Sacred Duty: A Soldier’s Tour at Arlington National Cemetery.

Table of Contents

Foreword Sen. Tom Cotton xi

Introduction 1

1 First Steps 13

2 The Team 25

President Donald Trump: Executive Sponsor

HHS Secretary Alex Azar: The Architect

Dr. Robert Kadlec: The Coordinator

Dr. Moncef Slaoui: The Vaccine Wizard

Carlo de Notaristefani: The Medical Manufacturing Marvel

General Gustave Perna: The Logistics Genius

Dr. Peter Marks: Early Screener, Later Reviewer

Matt Hepburn: The Development Coordinator

Dr. Francis Collins: The Godfather

Transforming Talent into a Team

3 The Launch 53

Rose Garden Kickoff-May 15, 2020

Jared Kushner and the Public Rollout

Picking Vaccine Candidates

4 The Money and the Science 61

Obtaining Funding for the Vaccine Candidates

The Pivotal Role of Dr. Francis Collins

A "Strategic Intervention" with Moderna

5 Making it 77

Expanding Manufacturing Capacity

Invoking the Defense Production Act

Setting Up Vaccine Manufacturing

Help from the Department of Justice

Board Meeting Drama

Oval Office Interactions

6 Shipping It 95

Planning Distribution and Getting Vaccine into Arms


7 Delivering It 111

Vials, Needles, Syringes, and Kits

Making Distribution Happen: The Other Generals

8 Approving It 119

Jared's Morning Operating Meetings

The Vaccine Distribution Summit

Science Influencing Politics?

Another October Surprise?

A Visit from Vice President Pence

Supporting Vaccine Diplomacy

Success: Moderna and Pfizer Granted Emergency Use Authorizations

9 Showtime 141

The ACIP and the CDC

Day 1 in the Vaccine Operating Center (VOC)

The First Week of Distribution: A Media Frenzy

The Camp David Summit and Rapid Adaptation

10 Lessons upon Leaving 155


Farewell to the Team

Politicizing an Exceptional American Achievement

Promises Made, Promises Kept

If We Could Turn Back Time

Lessons Learned for the Next Pandemic

Personal Reflections

Acknowledgements 176

Endnotes 178

Index 193

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