Senior White House officials reported that United States service members would be among the first Americans to receive a COVID-19 vaccine after it has been licensed. Officials said the groups likely to receive the vaccine first include the most vulnerable people such as the elderly, patients with underlying health conditions, employees in essential businesses and the U.S. military.
Operation Warp Speed (OWS) under way at the federal level is a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and has a goal of delivering 300 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine by January 2021. Meeting that goal is part of a broader strategy to accelerate the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
The U.S. military is playing a significant role in OWS. General Gustave Perna is chief operating officer of OWS. Army Lieutenant General Paul Ostrowski is leading the supply, production and distribution directorate, and Army Brigadier General Michael McCurry is leading the security assurance directorate. In addition, 36 additional Department of Defense personnel are working on the OWS.
The Walter Reed Army Institute of Research (WRAIR) announced that it has selected a lead vaccine candidate among the many experimental COVID-19 vaccines that Army researchers have been working on since the beginning of the year. They plan on testing leading candidate vaccines in human trials in late 2020.
Brigadier General Michael J. Talley, the Commanding General of the U.S. Army Medical Research and Development Command (USMRDC) said:
USAMRDC is moving at unprecedented speeds in the effort to prevent, detect, and treat COVID-19. We are supporting the whole-of-government response with
the scientific knowledge and expertise to combat this world-wide challenge.