From the L.A. Times
FROM THIS year on Dec. 14 will be known as the day in which the first COVID-19 vaccine doses were administered to health care workers around the country, giving a downcast nation hope that the end of this deadly scourge is finally in sight.
Hours after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized emergency use of a Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine on Friday, (Feb. 11.) 3 million doses were on trucks and planes headed to hospitals across the U.S. One of those shipments arrived late Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport via FedEx. The first immunizations were administered to health care workers soon after, and more will follow in the coming days. By early next year, there are likely to be even more vaccines, including those without the same cold storage requirements of these initial doses.
It’s not the end of the COVID-19 pandemic by a long shot. But with the launch of the most ambitious immunization operation in U.S. history, the end is in sight. Barring unforeseen problems with production, distribution or safety, vaccines will be available to the general public in late spring or summer. Until then, we still have months to go during which social distancing, face masks and restrictions on gatherings and businesses will be necessary.
That we have reached this point just a year after SARS-CoV-2 was first identified is a remarkable feat of science, political will and government mobilization. And for this we are profoundly grateful to the many people whose hard work, vision and personal sacrifice made it possible.
Thank you to the scientists who started working on the vaccine in February, even before it was clear how widespread the pandemic would become. Thank you to the thousands of clinical trial volunteers who risked their health to take an experimental vaccine for the benefit of others. Thank you to the government officials who worked to limit the bureaucratic red tape that typically makes vaccine development a years-long process, and for doing it without compromising safety controls. And thanks, too, to President Trump.
That’s right. Operation Warp Speed delivered. Launched in May, the private-public initiative marshaled the resources of government, science, the military and the pharmaceutical industry to rapidly develop, produce and distribute a COVID-19 vaccine. By investing $14 billion in research and development and the pre-purchase of vaccines, and allowing concurrent trials in the second and third phases, the administration was able to truncate a years-long process into just months.
“In order to achieve this goal, we harnessed the full power of government, the genius of American scientists and the might of American industry to save millions and millions of lives all over the world,” Trump said last week.
Another sad note for Dec. 14 is that it is the day in which COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. topped 300,000.
For now, the takeaway is that the U.S. government — supporting scientists and experts, free of interference — can still do great things. We hope that underlying insight can now be applied to the many other massive problems our nation faces.