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

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

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...

After the ventilator COVID survivor advocates for vaccine

Article Around MHS
9/15/2021
Tim Harris is sedated while on a ventilator

Tim Harris, a mobilization and planning specialist, U.S. Army Medical Center of Excellence, is sedated while on a ventilator at Brooke Army Medical Center, Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston, Texas, June 27, 2020.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus

Army Medicine Europe Provides Additional COVID Vaccinations for Immune Compromised

Article Around MHS
9/13/2021
Franz Dietrich, a German local national assigned to Training Support Activity Europe, receives a COVID-19 vaccination at the 7th Army Training Command's (7ATC) Rose Barracks, Vilseck, Germany, May 4, 2021. The U.S. Army Health Clinics at Grafenwoehr and Vilseck conducted a "One Community" COVID-19 vaccine drive May 3-7 to provide thousands of appointments to the 7ATC community of Soldiers, spouses, Department of the Army civilians, veterans and local nationals employed by the U.S. Army. (U.S. Army photo by Markus Rauchenberger)

Army medical treatment facilities in Europe are now offering an additional dose of COVID vaccine for immune compromised beneficiaries.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

The COVID-19 Pandemic: How Health Care Workers are Coping

Article
9/13/2021
a nurse helping a COVID-19 patient

For health care providers, experiencing the pandemic inside a hospital has brought

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Military Health Podcasts

Increased COVID Restrictions on the Pentagon Reservation

Article
9/8/2021
Military personnel wearing a face mask

Due to the increase in COVID-19 cases and positive test cases in the National Capital Region, the Pentagon Reservation will move to Health Protection Condition Bravo Plus (Bravo+)

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Coronavirus

As Fitness Tests Resume, Troops Seek Post-COVID Exercise Routines

Article
8/31/2021
Military personnel physically training

Keeping fit during pandemic proves hard for some.

Recommended Content:

Total Body Preventive Health and Total Force Fitness | Total Force Fitness | Physical Fitness | Coronavirus

Digital health innovation emerges during COVID-19 pandemic

Article
8/31/2021
The Defense Health Agency’s Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic. (Graphic courtesy of DHA Connected Health)

The DHA's Connected Health Branch was there to support, advise, and deliver new health innovations throughout the pandemic.

Recommended Content:

Connected Health | Coronavirus

COVID-19 Booster Shots

Infographic
8/27/2021
If you have an immune system that is moderately to severely compromised, the CDC recommends you may receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). This would be at least 4 weeks after your second dose.

If you have an immune system that is moderately to severely compromised, the CDC recommends you may receive an additional dose of mRNA COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer or Moderna). This would be at least 4 weeks after your second dose.

Recommended Content:

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

Secretary of Defense Mandates COVID-19 Vaccinations for Service Members

Article
8/26/2021
An Army medic administers the COVID-19 vaccine to another soldier.

Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III yesterday issued a memorandum directing mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations for service members.

Recommended Content:

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

DOD Intends to Mandate Pfizer Vaccine, Pentagon Official Says

Article
8/25/2021
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby holds a press briefing, at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Kirby said the health of DOD's military and civilian employees, families and communities is a top priority.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | COVID-19 Vaccine Efforts

CSM Gragg Vaccine Statement

Video
8/24/2021
CSM Gragg speaks about COVID-19

CSM Gragg shares his personal story dealing with COVID and the loss associated with it and urges all to take precautions.

Recommended Content:

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

Maintaining Mission Readiness During a Pandemic

Article
8/24/2021
Gen. Place presents at HIMSS in Las Vegas.

DHA Director Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Ronald Place discussed the national security implications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus | Deployment Health

LTG Place on Vaccine Importance

Video
8/17/2021
LTG Place on Vaccine Importance

LTG Place presents his concerns over those who are still unvaccinated during these unprecedented times. Take the right steps to prevent tragedy befalling your family and schedule your vaccine today at https://tricare.mil/vaccineappointments.

Recommended Content:

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

Got Your 6: August 16, 2021

Video
8/16/2021
Got Your 6: August 16, 2021

‘Got Your 6’ is TRICARE’s COVID vaccine video series that delivers important information and updates, on days that end in ‘6.’ It includes the latest information about DOD vaccine distribution, the TRICARE health benefit, and vaccine availability. Got a question about ‘Got Your 6’? Send an email to dha.ncr.comm.mbx.dha-internal-communications@mail.mil Find your local military provider at tricare.mil/MTF, or go to tricare.mil/vaccineappointments and schedule yours today!

Recommended Content:

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

Lt. Gen. Place and Command Sgt. Maj. Gragg on Getting Vaccinated

Video
8/16/2021
DHA Logo with the text: Importance of Vaccinations Lt. Gen. Ronald J. Place & Command Sgt. Maj. Michael L. Gragg

DHA Director Lt. Gen. Ron Place and DHA Senior Enlisted Leader Command Sgt. Maj. Michael Gragg talk about how getting vaccinated against COVID-19 is more important than ever.

Recommended Content:

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

Reform, COVID-19 Have Been Catalysts for Change in Military Medicine

Article
8/16/2021
Dr. Terry Adirim speaking to an audience at a conference

Healthcare is about taking care of people, so no amount of change or innovation is ever sufficient if modernization does not lead to helping patients, says acting ASDHA at HIMSS21 in Las Vegas.

Recommended Content:

Coronavirus | Coronavirus and the COVID-19 Vaccine | Military Health System Transformation
<< < 1 2 3 4 5  ... > >> 
Showing results 46 - 60 Page 4 of 44

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.