An article by my Hoover colleague Dr. Paul Gregory in The Hill
Recall the desperate early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in early Spring 2020. Researchers worried that the Spanish flu of 1918 that cost millions of American lives could be a possible model. The Imperial College of London released a projection of over 2 million deaths in the U.S. alone if government failed to take action. The government’s top advisor, Anthony Fauci, recommended a strategy of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPI) to “bend the curve.” However, the highly infectious nature of the disease meant that they could offer only a temporary respite.
Adding to the gloom was the scientific community’s pessimism concerning the prospects for an early vaccine. Past history suggested that vaccines required years to get through regulatory approval — and then an additional year or more to scale-up for the millions of doses needed. Four months into the pandemic in the Spring of 2020, the most optimistic observers projected that we were well more than a year away from a viable vaccination program.
Contrary to earlier expectations, two vaccines (Pfizer and Moderna) were approved in December 2020, and the first doses were administered less than a week later. These advances occurred under the auspices of Operation Warp Speed, a joint government, business, and military venture. Its unique feature was to guarantee purchases of experimental vaccines as they proceeded through regulatory approval in order to scale-up quickly the successful ones.