Back to Top Skip to main content Skip to sub-navigation

Hepburn: DOD role in Operation Warp Speed was ‘transformative’

Image of Medical technician getting a syringe ready to give a vaccine. Crystal Tyler, pharmacy technician, prepares an injection for an Operation Warp Speed patient volunteer at Brooke Army Medical Center Fort Sam Houston, Texas, November 16, 2020. BAMC is one of five Defense Health Agency military medical treatment facilities participating in the Phase III trial to evaluate the vaccine under development by AstraZeneca as part of a national initiative to accelerate the development, production and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics. (Photo by Jason Edwards, Brooke Army Medical Center.)

Recommended Content:

COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts | Vaccine Trials | Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine

The director of the Department of Defense’s Operation Warp Speed told The Society of Federal Health Professionals that he is 'incredibly proud’ of the work his team has done with the Department of Health and Human Services in finding a vaccine for COVID-19. Dr. Matthew Hepburn’s praise for DOD came during a speech to the AMSUS virtual annual meeting Dec. 8.

The DOD’s role in Operations Warp Speed (OWS) was “transformative,” said Hepburn, OWS development lead, pointing to operational planning, logistics and supply chains, which “is in our DNA” at DOD. “It comes very naturally because that is what we do…and that has made all the difference,” he told the audience of more than 1,500 online attendees.

For example, he said DOD’s expertise in obtaining contracts quickly resulted in OWS getting “a really good deal in record time that was mutually beneficial” to the six vaccine manufacturers the joint operation decided to pursue for an approved vaccine for COVID-19. Those manufacturers are Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, Janssen, Novavax, and Sanofi.

“The Department of Defense’s unique contracting experience … and other transactions have allowed us to come from where we think are the right contacts to having long-term contracts,” Hepburn said.

Pfizer and Moderna have applied for emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration. Pfizer’s application will be reviewed by an FDA advisory committee of vaccine experts Dec. 10, and Moderna’s application will be reviewed a week later. The FDA usually, but not always, accepts its advisory panels’ recommendations.

The FDA announced on Dec. 8 that its review of the Pfizer vaccine found it to be safe and efficacious, meeting the requirements for emergency use authorization. The vaccine showed a strong protective effect after the first of two doses, according to the FDA.

The OWS’ chief operating officer, Army Gen. Gustave Perna, “has been very clear that we will have trucks rolling within 24 hours of approval of the first vaccine,” Hepburn said.

Once the vaccine is first available to frontline health care workers and elderly care facilities, “we need you to tell our communities that this is just one layer of a multi-level strategy” to protect against COVID-19, he stated.

He urged the health care community “to convey a message that these vaccines are safe and efficacious, and that vaccination is important” as a counterpoint to widespread misinformation in the general public about vaccines and the need for vaccination against the disease.

Clinical trials for the candidate vaccines are ongoing and represent the diversity of the general population, Hepburn said, and were done “in anticipation of trying to increase confidence” among the public. For example, at least 25% of clinical trial participants are over the age of 65, a population not normally used for clinical trials but one at greater risk from COVID-19, he noted.

The number of doses needed for immunizations is “really a moving target, which is not necessarily a bad thing,” Hepburn said. “The consistency and cadence of manufacturing improves over time, and more doses are available than we thought would be available last week.”

OWS’ project team asks for “more doses on a daily basis,” he noted.

Armed services research efforts prior to the pandemic will allow for future innovation and speed of vaccine and therapeutics development, Hepburn said.

“If we hadn’t made those investments 10 years ago, there is no way we could have achieved the speed” of going from research and development, to candidates, to clinical trials, to approval and distribution, he said.

He noted that the DOD’s “clinical research enterprise led us to be involved in the enrollment right now in the AstraZeneca clinical trials.”

He called the department’s research enterprise “an incredibly powerful tool to confront 21st century threats,” and that “this is the new standard for rapid product development, and will apply not only to pandemics but also to develop product for combat health in half the time. Imagine how fast we could go in force protection” using the new paradigm, he said.

During a question and answer session, Hepburn emphasized that the AMSUS audience “needs to remind people at the DOD and in the community at large how well DOD can work” when confronted by new viral or other national security and health care threats.

“One of the most important lessons learned is the value of military leadership” in overcoming obstacles at a rapid clip, he said, noting the DOD “didn’t take over a public health initiative, but collaborated on a project that involved not only what we’re doing for the American people but also globally.”

You also may be interested in...

Answering Your Questions About COVID-19 Testing

Article
2/25/2022
Military personnel performing a COVID-19 Test

COVID-19 continues to spread, now as the Omicron variant. Getting vaccinated is the most effective way to protect you and your family from getting seriously ill, getting hospitalized, or dying. You should also make sure you’re up to date with your vaccines. Testing is another important step you can take to protect yourself and others.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus | At-Home COVID-19 Tests

Defense Department Announces Distribution of COVID-19 Tests for Military Beneficiaries

Article
2/25/2022
A Soldier assigned to the Connecticut National Guard helps load a shipment of at-home COVID-19 testing kits into a truck at a regional distribution point in North Haven, Connecticut, Jan. 3, 2022. These kits were picked up by representatives from local towns and municipalities to be handed out to their communities.

The Department of Defense will offer at-home COVID-19 tests for military beneficiaries at military hospitals or clinics, on a supply available basis, in the coming weeks.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus

Latasha Smith: Warrior against COVID-19

Article Around MHS
2/18/2022
Military personnel looking at a patient's cardiac rhythm

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Latasha Smith, an Airman assigned to the 86th Operational Medical Readiness Squadron, was celebrated as Airlifter of the Week, Jan. 27, 2022, after leading the assault against COVID-19 for over a year.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Military Medical Units Support Civilian Hospitals Strained By COVID-19 Surge

Article
2/14/2022
Air Force Staff Sgt. Bradley Gorman, a medical technician assigned to a military medical team deployed to Yuma, Arizona performs a nasal swab at the Yuma Regional Medical Center’s COVID testing drive-thru in Yuma, Jan. 17, 2022.

Thousands of service members have been supporting civilian hospitals with testing, vaccinations and treatment of seriously ill patients.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 therapeutics support DOD pandemic response

Article Around MHS
2/11/2022
Military personnel getting COVID-29 doses ready

The U.S. Army Medical Materiel Agency is helping to protect the operational force by distributing several new therapeutic options that help to lessen the symptoms of mild-to-moderate cases of COVID-19 and keep Soldiers, their families and beneficiaries out of the hospital.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

COVID-19 Health Action Response for Marines continues to study long-term effects of COVID-19 on Marines

Article Around MHS
2/10/2022
Medical military personnel talking to a patient

A team composed of U.S. Navy medical personnel and civilian technicians based out of the Naval Medical Research Center in Silver Spring, Maryland, assembled during the initial outbreak of COVID-19 to study the short and long-term effects that the virus has on Marines. 

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Does CSM Gragg Have COVID-19?

Video
2/9/2022
Does CSM Gragg Have COVID-19?

CSM Gragg demonstrates how to use a COVID-19 at home rapid test.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | At-Home COVID-19 Tests | Coronavirus

Getting up-to-date on your COVID-19 vaccine

Article Around MHS
2/8/2022
Military personnel giving the COVID-19 vaccine

The U.S. Guard Coast is that we have vaccines to help prevent serious illness if you contract COVID-19.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Make Guidance for DOD Facilities

Infographic
2/3/2022
Make Guidance for DOD Facilities

Mask Guidance for Department of Defense Facilities.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Prevent COVID-19

Additional Dose of mRNA

Infographic
2/3/2022
Additional Dose of mRNA

Should I get an additional dose of the mRNA Vccine?

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

VaxFacts: Should I get a booster?

Infographic
2/3/2022
VaxFacts: Should I get a booster?

Should I get a COVID-19 Booster Shot?

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vax Facts

VAXFacts TRICARE coverage Vaccine

Infographic
2/3/2022
VAXFacts TRICARE coverage Vaccine

Will TRICARE cover the COVID-19 Vaccine? Yes. TRICARE offers the vaccine itself at no cost, but there may be a cost based on your plan for an office visit or if you require follow-on care.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | COVID-19 Vax Facts

Preteens Teens Can Get Boosted Too

Infographic
2/3/2022
Preteens Teens Can Get Boosted Too

Preteens and Teens can get boosted, too! The CDC recommends a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine for preteens/teens ages 12 and older, 5 months after their second shot.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Vaccines for Children

Compromised Immune System

Infographic
2/3/2022
Compromised Immune System

Do you have a compromised immune system? The CDC recommends you get an additional primary dose of the mRNA COVID-19 vaccine.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Get to Know the COVID-19 Vaccines

DOD COVID-19 Practice Management Guide Version 8

Technical Document
1/31/2022

This Practice Management Guide does not supersede DOD Policy. It is based upon the best information available at the time of publication. It is designed to provide information and assist decision making. It is not intended to define a standard of care and should not be construed as one. Neither should it be interpreted as prescribing an exclusive course of management. It was developed by experts in this field. Variations in practice will inevitably and appropriately occur when clinicians take into account the needs of individual patients, available resources, and limitations unique to an institution or type of practice. Every healthcare professional making use of this guideline is responsible for evaluating the appropriateness of applying it in the setting of any particular clinical situation. The Practice Management Guide is not intended to represent TRICARE policy. Further, inclusion of recommendations for specific testing and/or therapeutic interventions within this guide does not guarantee coverage of civilian sector care. Additional information on current TRICARE benefits may be found at www.tricare.mil or by contacting your regional TRICARE Managed Care Support Contractor.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Information for Military Treatment Facility Directors
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 16 - 30 Page 2 of 38
Refine your search
Last Updated: September 01, 2021

DHA Address: 7700 Arlington Boulevard | Suite 5101 | Falls Church, VA | 22042-5101

Some documents are presented in Portable Document Format (PDF). A PDF reader is required for viewing. Download a PDF Reader or learn more about PDFs.