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DoD to Have Key Role in COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

Photo by: 
U.S. Army/Sgt. Amanda Hunt
Friday, September 18, 2020

DoD and other federal agencies are putting into motion plans to roll out a COVID-19 vaccine under Operation Warp Speed—and the Pentagon is set to play a key role in its distribution.

“The Department of Defense is uniquely positioned to help guide the OWS distribution strategy due to its vast logistical experience,” said Army Gen. Gus Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed. 

“Americans can trust that our country’s best public health and logistics experts are working together to get a vaccine to them as soon as available,” Perna said.

Operation Warp Speed, a collaboration between DoD, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, aims to deliver a safe and effective vaccine against the novel coronavirus in the coming months. 

Five DoD sites were recently selected to participate in phase III trials for a leading vaccine candidate, including Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and Fort Belvoir Community Hospital in Virginia.

This month, the federal government released a strategy “playbook”—including details about data monitoring and a “phased allocation” method—for vaccine distribution when one becomes available.

Earlier this year, Perna said it’s “potentially possible” to deliver 300 million doses of the vaccine by January, depending on the length of human trials and the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine.

Perna most recently was commander of Army Materiel Command, which manages the global supply chain and synchronizes logistics and sustainment activities across the Army.

According to the Associated Press, the “gradual campaign” for rolling out the vaccine could begin in January or later this year—and the vaccine would be free to all Americans who want the shot.

The shot will require two doses between 21 and 28 days apart, AP reported. Both doses will need to be from the same manufacturer, although more than one vaccine could eventually become available.