Shortly after the SARS-CoV-2 virus reached the U.S., it became apparent that COVID-19 – the disease the virus produces — would profoundly impact life in this country and abroad. Absent a vaccine, millions would become infected. Although most would not become seriously ill, many thousands would die. The elderly and those with chronic diseases were especially vulnerable.
Development of a vaccine in time to alter the course of the epidemic would be unprecedented. As such, the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed was a longshot. However, through a novel public-private partnership that included investments in technology, manufacturing capacity and clinical studies; careful selection of vaccines and platforms; and importantly, increased regulatory flexibility that allowed for concurrent performance of typically sequential steps and a defined pathway to safe introduction, the administration accomplished a miracle. Generally safe and extraordinarily effective vaccines were available for use within a year.
However, despite this triumph, it is naïve to believe vaccination will eradicate the SARS-CoV-2 virus or itself put an end to the pandemic.