The initiative’s chief operating officer similarly said the election shouldn’t affect the vaccine effort.
“I see nothing that would cause us to stop doing what we’re doing, no matter the results of the election,” Gen. Gustave Perna said at a Heritage Foundation event this week. “We got our heads down and driving the sleigh, and we are going to execute our mission as directed.”
But as president, Biden would face some tough questions in taking over Operation Warp Speed.
The initiative aims to deliver 300 million doses of coronavirus vaccine to Americans starting early next year. A coronavirus vaccine has yet to be approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but the Trump administration’s unprecedented effort has won praise even from skeptics who otherwise slam its response to the pandemic.
Paul Ostrowski, Operation Warp Speed’s director for supply, production and distribution, said yesterday they are “absolutely” on track to achieve the goal of having tens of millions of vaccine doses ready in December.
“We are actually going to exceed that expectation,” Ostrowski told CBS News. “We will have vaccines, we anticipate, prior to the turn of the new year.”
Biden is under pressure from some Democratic quarters to fire the head of the project, Moncef Slaoui, who was appointed by Trump in May.
Slaoui, who came from a venture capital firm investing in biotech companies, has held millions in stock on companies that are working to develop coronavirus vaccines. By working as a volunteer outside contractor for pay of just $1, Slaoui has been able to maintain personal investments and avoid making ethics disclosures.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and other lawmakers have seized on the unusual situation, asking the consulting company that employs Slaoui to explain its role in his contract with the federal government. Warren has also said Slaoui should be the “first person to be fired.”
A Biden spokesman wouldn’t say yesterday whether the Democratic nominee would keep Slaoui in place.
Campaign spokesman Andrew Bates didn’t respond to a question about Biden’s plans on that front, instead providing a generic statement about how Biden will “empower scientific professionals” if elected.
“Why would anyone believe that the Trump Administration could competently execute on developing and distributing a vaccine to hundreds of millions of Americans?” Bates wrote in an email.
“Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will provide the leadership that has been lacking under Trump to empower scientific professionals throughout our government — including those involved in Warp Speed — to ensure that a safe and effective vaccine is distributed equitably, efficiently, and free to all Americans,” he added.
Biden’s campaign website criticizes Operation Warp Speed, saying the initiative “lacks sound leadership, global vision, or a strategy for securing the necessary funding to see this mission through or secure trust from Americans who depend on its success.”
But Operation Warp Speed has already inked more than a dozen contracts.
The next president won’t be sworn in until the end of January. By that time – if all goes according