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It’s Time to Revive the Principles of Operation Warp Speed

Public Advisor

Paul Mango was the Deputy Chief of Staff for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services from 2019-2021. During this time, he served as Secretary Azar’s formal liaison to Operation Warp Speed where he was involved in nearly all strategic, operational, and financial aspects of the program, and facilitated its day-to-day activities among the Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Defense, and the White House. Prior to his role as Deputy Chief of Staff, Mango served from 2018-2019 as the Chief of Staff at the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

Rather than anticipating and adapting to changing conditions, the White House is “leading from behind.” The two latest examples are the huge imbalance between supply and demand for rapid tests and the failure to invest in the manufacturing of promising oral therapeutics such as Pfizer’s Paxlovid prior to it receiving an emergency-use authorization from the FDA. What’s worse is that the White House call for testing appeared to be a function of  politics over science as it panicked at the prospect of damage to its approval ratings from omicron. Nevertheless, the Biden team was caught flatfooted when pharmacy shelves were empty and lines for testing in major American cities stretched around the block….

The Biden administration needs to adopt the spirit and principles of Operation Warp Speed. This Trump-led effort anticipated what would be needed months in advance, starting by expanding America’s industrial capacity to produce vaccines, then by procuring the equipment and raw materials necessary to manufacture them long in advance of FDA authorization. It placed advanced orders not only for the vaccines but also for temperature-controlled storage containers, vials that could withstand minus 80-degree Celsius temperatures, a billion syringes and needles, and then developed distribution plans to get millions of doses of the vaccine to over 50,000 destinations across the country as soon as it was approved using an advanced information technology system to track every dose.

The principles guiding Operation Warp Speed were simple but compelling: Never let the federal government perform tasks the private sector can perform better; engage and utilize experts from the private sector to complement talented career government officials; distribute accountability and decision rights as close to where the action is as possible; assume financial risks the private sector is unwilling to take; and, if one does not get it right the first time, learn and adapt quickly.

Read the full article in Real Clear Politics.

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