Dec 8, 2020
Donald Trump Hosts Operation Warp Speed COVID-19 Vaccine Summit Transcript December 8
President Donald Trump hosted a summit event with GOP leaders on December 8 to discuss Operation Warp Speed & plans for coronavirus vaccine distribution. Read the transcript of the event with speeches from Donald Trump and Mike Pence here.
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Speaker 9: (06:02)
Ladies and gentlemen, the President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.
President Donald J. Trump: (06:31)
Thank you very much. Appreciate it very much. I’m honored to welcome doctors, scientists, industry executives, and state and local leaders to our historic Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit. It’s been some journey for all of us. It’s been an incredible success. We’re grateful to be joined by Vice President Mike Pence who has done an absolutely incredible job on the coronavirus task force. Mike, thank you. Stand up, Mike. Great job.
President Donald J. Trump: (07:06)
We’re here to discuss a monumental national achievement. From the instant the coronavirus invaded our shores, we raced into action to develop a safe and effective vaccine at breakneck speed. It would normally take five years, six years, seven years, or even more. In order to achieve this goal, we harnessed the full power of government, the genius of American scientists and the might of American industry to save millions and millions of lives all over the world. We’re just days away from authorization from the FDA and we’re pushing them hard, at which point we will immediately begin mass distribution.
President Donald J. Trump: (07:46)
Before Operation Warp Speed, the typical timeframe for development, an approval as you know, could be infinity. And we were very, very happy that we were able to get things done at a level that nobody has ever seen before. The gold standard vaccine has been done in less than nine months. On behalf of the entire nation, I want to thank everyone here today who has been involved in this extraordinary American initiative. I also want to recognize members of my administration who have worked tirelessly in this effort. Alex Azar, please, Alex. Where’s Alex? Thank you, Alex. Great job. Moncef Slaoui, where are you, Moncef? Thank you very much. Great job. A man who’s now going to be very important, General Gus Perna, I have no doubt about it. Right? Logistic. Jared Kushner, who’s worked so hard. Where’s Jared? Jared, wherever you may be, thank you. Thank you, Jared.
President Donald J. Trump: (08:56)
Dr. Deborah Birx. Deborah, thank you very much, Deborah. Admiral Brett Giroir. Where is Brett? Great job you’ve been doing, Brett. Surgeon General, Jerome Adams. Jerome, thank you very much. Terrific. Dr. Robert Redfield, Robert, thank you very much. Appreciate it. Administrator Seema Verma, Seema, thank you. Dr. Peter Marks, Peter, where’s Peter? Thank you. Paul Mango, Adam Bowler and Brad Smith. Thank you very much. Great job. Thank you all very much. Incredible job. And many others also, many, many others.
President Donald J. Trump: (09:47)
We’re also grateful to be joined by Governors Greg Abbott, where is Greg? Bill Lee, Bill. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you, Bill. Ron DeSantis, Ron, thank you, Ron. Thank you. Thank you very much. Great job, Ron. And John Bel Edwards, John Bel, thank you. Thank you, John Bel. Thank you very much. As well as Senator John Barrasso who’s a fantastic doctor also, by the way. I have to say. When I need info on that subject, I call up John. Thank you, John, very much. Senator Steve Daines, congratulations on a great win, great win. That was easier than you thought it turned out, right? It was a little easier than you thought. Great going. We’re proud of you. Congressman Greg Walden, Greg. Thank you very much. Thank you very much. And Congressmen Brad Wenstrup. Thank you, Brad. Great job, and many, many others.
President Donald J. Trump: (10:56)
My administration provided a total of $14 billion to accelerate vaccine development and to manufacture all of the top candidates in advance, long in advance. As a result of this unprecedented investment, we are exceedingly proud that both Pfizer and Moderna have announced that their vaccines are approximately 95% effective which is a number that nobody expected to be able to get to, far exceeding anything that really that anybody thought. We went out and we said, “What do you think a maximum would be?” And I think, doctors, we all came up to the conclusion that something like that would be really incredible. We have other candidates looking right now and we have some big ones that we’re going to be announcing very soon. We have some companies, great, great companies out there you all know about, Johnson and Johnson and others. And they’re all coming in and they’re coming in very quickly. We expect to have some news on that very shortly.
President Donald J. Trump: (11:51)
And we have worked very well with the companies, but if for any reason we have any problems, we will be instituting the Defense Production Act and we will make sure that we don’t have any problems for very long. We’ve instituted it before. Two additional companies, AstraZeneca and Johnson and Johnson. As you know, the Johnson and Johnson is a one dose, one shot vaccine, so we’re going to see how that works. That would be very helpful if that all came out, and I think it probably will. Also, they’re showing tremendous, tremendous promise, all of them, tremendous problem.
President Donald J. Trump: (12:25)
We’re very hopeful that the FDA will authorize the Pfizer vaccine within days. We’ve got to get it moving and Moderna vaccine almost immediately thereafter. Large numbers of tests and samples have been done so hopefully that’ll go very quickly. If authorized, tens of millions of vaccine doses will be available this month and we’ll get it distributed very quickly. We have that all set and hundreds of millions more will quickly follow. Every American who wants the vaccine will be able to get the vaccine. And we think by spring, we’re going to be in a position that nobody would have believed possible just a few months ago. Amazing, really amazing. They say it’s somewhat of a miracle. And I think that’s true.
President Donald J. Trump: (13:16)
The plan we put forward prioritizes the elderly and patients with underlying conditions, as well as health care workers and first responders. The ultimate decision rests with the governors of the various states. And I hope the governors make wise decisions who will decide where the vaccines will go in their state and who will get them first. We urge the governors to put America’s seniors first, and also I think those who work with seniors, which obviously you going to have to do that. I think they have to go together, and doctors, nurses, first responders, et cetera. This will quickly and dramatically reduce deaths and hospitalizations. And within a short period of time, I think we want to get back to normal. It’s a very standard phrase. We want to just get back to normal, get back to where we were a little more than nine months ago. We’re doing incredibly. And in many respects, we’re still doing incredibly with our stock markets and everything else which are hitting all new highs.
President Donald J. Trump: (14:13)
We’ve already finalized a partnership with Walgreens and CVS whose executives join us today. Thank you very much for being here. Thank you very much. We appreciate it very much. And they will deliver vaccines directly to nursing homes as soon as the states request that they do so. Later today, General Gus Perna will outline the detailed plan to rapidly distribute the vaccine to every state territory and tribe. States have designated over 50,000 sites that will receive the vaccine. We’ve worked very closely with the states. Actually, we’ve had very good relationships with the governors. I almost think all of the governors, at least in those conference calls that are somewhat secret, other than sometimes on occasion, Mike. The press will break in which is fine, too.
President Donald J. Trump: (15:04)
It’s amazing how you leave those rooms and about 10 seconds later. There wasn’t even time for a leak. They were on the call, but that’s all right. So you assume that. You always assume that. But they’ll be going through pharmacies, hospitals, health care providers. Through our partnership with FedEx, UPS and McKesson, we’ll ship doses from warehouses directly to the designated sites. And we’re thrilled to be joined by representatives, those really great American companies. Those companies have worked with us and they’ve been incredible to work with. And I want to thank you all for being here, please. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you very much.
President Donald J. Trump: (15:44)
As I’ve stated all along and I guess as you saw pretty vividly, I heard about what they were going to show prior to my coming. You saw that very few people thought that this was possible. Of course there’ll be saying now we always told you it was so, but we have them saying a little bit different. But it has been incredible and it will end the pandemic. It will end the pandemic and we’re working with other nations. As you see actually by looking at your screen today, we’re working very closely with other nations also to get the vaccines out to other nations. And that’s very important. We work with the world. We’re working with the world. We have great companies and we’re working with the world.
President Donald J. Trump: (16:26)
In just a few minutes, I’ll sign an executive order to ensure that the United States government prioritizes the getting out of the vaccine to American citizens before sending it to other nations. Now, if necessary, I told you we’ll invoke the Defense Production Act, but we don’t think it will be necessary. If it is, it’s a very powerful act as you know, because we’ve used it very, very successfully. While we begin to swiftly deploy the vaccine, we’ll continue to expand the availability of groundbreaking therapies. Since April advances in treatments have already helped reduce the mortality rate by 85%. Think of that, 85%. It’s an incredible number.
President Donald J. Trump: (17:14)
I’ve delivered on my solemn promise to make the antibody treatments. They’re brilliant. They’re highly successful, available to every American, and we’re doing that free of cost, totally free of cost. So we’re making them available and they’re available now. And if somebody gets sick, it works where they go and they get treatment if that’s what the doctors are prescribing, and it’s been incredible, the success. And when you hear 85%, that’s some number. To me, that’s a number that goes along with anything else, including the vaccines when you think about it. As well as we’ve done with the vaccines, when you hear 85%, people find that one hard to believe. But you look at the stats and you see what’s happening. And you look at other countries, they’re having tremendous difficulties in Europe, tremendous, relatively beyond what we’re having. They’re having them all over the world. But this will vanquish the problem, this horrible scourge, as I call it the China virus because that’s where it came from.
President Donald J. Trump: (18:16)
And the virus has really been looked at and studied all over the world. And our scientists, our industrial and economic mobilization has been like nobody else in the world could have done. And it’s very important that we share that with others and other nations. I’ve worked and invoked the Defense Production Act over 100 times to manufacture essential supplies in the United States. Despite the grim projections from the media eight months ago, where they said this was impossible, they actually said, and you saw that a little bit, but I could give you two hours worth of it, but they said it will never happen. You could never do it. It was a pipe dream. But we did something that nobody thought was possible. And we also did it where no American who has needed a ventilator has been denied a ventilator.
President Donald J. Trump: (19:10)
When this first came out, we weren’t equipped for that. Nobody was equipped for that. And we’re now making ventilators and we have all we need in this country. But we’re sending them to countries all over the world. We’re making thousands and thousands of ventilators a month. The United States has also created the largest, most advanced and most innovative testing program in the world by far. We’ve conducted over 200 million tests. Think of that, 200 million tests, more than all of the European Union combined. It’s not even close. Just 10 months ago, none of these innovations even existed. The tremendous progress that we’ve made is a testament to what our nation is capable of. When America is faced with a challenge, we come through and we always come through to overcome every hardship and surmount every obstacle. And I think you’ll be seeing that over the next few months. The numbers should skyrocket downward.
President Donald J. Trump: (20:06)
We are the most exceptional nation in the history of the world. Today we’re on the verge of another American medical miracle. And that’s what people are saying. People that aren’t necessarily big fans of Donald Trump are saying whether you like him or not, this is one of the greatest miracles in the history of modern day medicine or any other medicine, any other age of medicine. American companies were the first to produce a verifiably safe and effective vaccine together. We will defeat the virus, and we will soon end the pandemic, and we will save millions and millions of lives both in our country and all over the world, and we’ve already started.
President Donald J. Trump: (20:47)
Thank you again to every person here today and for the incredible achievements that you’ve done. You’re going to be very proud of this day and you’re going to be very proud of this period of time because nobody thought this was possible. Nobody thought it was even remotely possible to do what we’ve done in a period of less than nine months, something just not even thinkable. And we took a lot of heat when we said this is our goal and we frankly weren’t even quite using the numbers that we use. We far exceeded what we thought. If we would have said sometime next year, I think most people would have said that would be great. That would be a miracle. But we did it long before sometime next year.
President Donald J. Trump: (21:28)
So now I want to ask several leaders who have been crucial in this effort to join me on stage as I signed the executive order to ensure that American citizens have first priority to receive American vaccines, and then we’re going to be working with other countries all over the world. And I think we’ll be able to start doing that almost immediately also because we have millions of doses coming in. So thank you very much. Thank you. It’s a great honor. Let’s see here. I guess we have to do our Vice President, right? Thank you very much. Spread that around. Spread the wealth.
Speaker 10: (22:42)
Thank you, Mr. President.
President Donald J. Trump: (22:49)
Thank you very much. Thank you very much, everybody. Thank you.
President Donald J. Trump: (23:10)
Any questions please? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you all. Any questions, please? Question? Yes, please.
Speaker 11: (23:34)
Mr. President, It’s a clearly a success, this vaccine. I’m wondering though what your message is to the American people given all the increasing cases right now about what they should do over Christmas and the hardship that they’re all facing as this virus does get worse?
President Donald J. Trump: (23:51)
Yeah. Well, CDC puts out their guidelines and they’re very important guidelines. But I think this. I think that the vaccine was our goal. That was number one because it was the way it ends. Plus you do have an immunity. You develop immunity over a period of time. And I hear we’re close to 15%. I’m hearing that. And that is terrific. That’s a very powerful vaccine in itself. And just tremendous progress has been made.
President Donald J. Trump: (24:19)
One of the reasons we do show so many, and I say this, and I’ve been saying it for a long time, so many cases is because of the fact that we have 200 million tests, and you take, I think India is actually in second place with just a fraction of that number. So we’re many times greater than the second country, and India has 1.4 billion people where our testing program has been incredible. And we actually are also coming out with new tests very shortly that will make the process even easier. And you won’t need doctors necessarily to do the test. So we have some incredible tests coming out in a very short period of time. Yeah, please.
Speaker 12: (24:55)
Mr. President, but some of these scientific officials here in this room have encouraged Americans not to travel this holiday season, not to go to large gatherings. Across the street you’ve been holding holiday parties with hundreds of people, many not wearing masks. Why are you modeling a different behavior to the American people than what your scientists tell?
Speaker 1: (25:16)
Well, they’re Christmas parties, and frankly, we’ve reduced the number very substantially as you know. And I see a lot of people at the parties wearing masks. I mean, I would say that I look out at the audience at those parties, and we have a lot of people wearing masks. And I think that’s a good thing. Yeah, please, over here, go ahead.
Speaker 13: (25:33)
Mr. President, the next administration will be the one ultimately that implements a lot of the distribution of this vaccine and will oversee much of the future of the way Operation Warp Speed goes forward. Why not include members of the Biden transition team as part of this summit that you’re hosting today?
Speaker 1: (25:47)
Well, we’re going to have to see who the next administration is because we won in those swing states, and there was terrible things that went on, so we’re going to have to see who the next administration is. But whichever the next administration is will really benefit by what we’ve been able to do with this incredible science, the doctors, all of the people that came up, the lab technicians. The work that’s been done is incredible and it will be incredible for the next administration, and hopefully the next administration will be the Trump administration because you can’t steal hundreds of thousands of votes. You can’t have fraud and deception and all of the things that they did, and then slightly win a swing state. And you just have to look at the numbers, look at what’s been on tape, look at all the corruption, and we’ll see you can’t win an election like that.
Speaker 1: (26:38)
So hopefully the next administration will be the Trump administration, a continuation, which has led us to the highest stock markets we’ve ever had, the best employment numbers we’ve ever had, a rebuilt military. If you look at the tax reductions are the greatest in history, the regulation reductions the greatest in history. It leads us to Space Force, which nobody thought was possible. All of the things we’ve done and we were rewarded with a victory. Now let’s see whether or not somebody has the courage, whether it’s a legislator or legislatures, or whether it’s a Justice of the Supreme Court or a number of Justices of the Supreme Court, let’s see if they have the courage to do what everybody in this country knows is right.
Speaker 1: (27:24)
I received almost 75 million votes, the highest number of votes in the history of our country for a sitting president, 12 million more than the 63 million we received four years ago. President Obama received 3 million less in his second term and he won easily. I received 12 million more, which by the way, is a record, 12 million more. And they say that when the numbers came out and the numbers came through machines, and all of those ballots were taken away and added, all you have to do is turn on your local television set, and you’ll see what happened with thousands of ballots coming out from under tables, with all of the terrible things you saw, all you have to do is take a look.
Speaker 1: (28:06)
And if somebody has the courage, I know who the next administration will be. And I’ll tell you what, life will be much easier for this country because of what we’ve done right now. And because of a lot of the people in this room, the job you’ve done on the vaccine, together with a lot of others, has been a modern day miracle, and it’s really been acknowledged as such. And I want to thank you. I want to give you my love and I want to give you my thanks because you are very special people. And now, good luck. You distribute that General and really set records. Okay? Set records just like we’ve been doing for four years. Thank you very much. Thank you, everybody. Thank you. Thank you. Good job. Good job.
Speaker 1: (29:01)
Paul Mango: (32:30)
Good afternoon, everyone. I’m Paul Mango. I’m the Deputy Chief of Staff at the Department of Health and Human Services and I’ll be your host for the balance of the afternoon. I thought we’d begin by reinforcing with a quotation the president’s sentiments just a couple of minutes ago. You may recognize this. We were successful at Normandy because we didn’t know, it was impossible.
Paul Mango: (32:55)
From the president to Secretary Azar to Dr. Slaoui and General Perna down through the ranks of every participant in both the public and private sectors, their focus was singular. Save American lives. No one on this team ever knew bringing millions of doses of even one not to mention two vaccines, safe and effective to the American people before year end was impossible. This was the principle reason today why we are where we are on the verge of doing just that. But as the president noted, this is what separates America from the rest of the world.
Paul Mango: (33:29)
We take the impossible and we make it possible. Make no mistake about it though, today is not a declaration of mission accomplished. Rather, it’s a glimpse into mission impossible, an extraordinary effort to successfully confront what many of the world’s experts and pundits believed could not be done. We have three objectives for this afternoon. The first is to build understanding. We will describe how the Trump administration plans to equitably distribute safe and effective vaccines to any American desiring one.
Paul Mango: (34:02)
Second, we seek to build confidence. Describe how the Trump administration is following data and science in the development and evaluation of the vaccines. And third, we’re going to recognize the achievements, celebrate the private sector, innovation commitment, and the American spirit those working with the Trump administration have demonstrated every step of the way to achieve the fastest development and distribution of vaccines in history. The runners show today will be as follows. Dr. Slaoui will discuss the strategy and process behind the investments and cultivation of our vaccine portfolio, while General Perna will provide some insights into the task of shipping vaccines within 24 hours of FDA authorization. Adam Boehler and Dr. Peter Marks will discuss the rigorous gold standard process the FDA is using to ensure the vaccines are safe and effective. Admiral Giroir and the executives from FedEx, UPS, McKesson and Thermo Fisher will discuss cold storage handling and delivery logistics.
Paul Mango: (35:05)
We’ll then have a 10-minute break about an hour and a half in then Brad Smith will be moderating a panel with CVS and Walgreens to discuss vaccine administration with a focus on long-term care in senior living facilities. And Secretary Azar who’s been the architect of Operation Warp Speed from the start will interview governors Abbott, DeSantis, Edwards and Lee about the critical role of states and jurisdictions in the vaccine prioritization and administration process.
Paul Mango: (35:34)
Finally, we’ll hear from Vice President Pence whom you know, has been leading the White House Task Force for the last nine months. He’ll offer some reflections and closing remarks. Implicit in this agenda are three vital partnerships animating the success of Operation Warp Speed. First is HHS and the Department of Defense. Second is federal state and third is public-private. The federal government is enabling success, but we would not be here today if not for the set of collaborative partnerships. You will gain more insight into each of these over the next couple of hours.
Paul Mango: (36:11)
As Dr. Slaoui and General Perna come up onto the platform, I’d like to briefly describe the paradox that’s inherent in their roles. Dr. Slaoui’s role has been to evaluate in advance from over a hundred candidates what became a portfolio of six vaccines having the greatest probability on a risk-adjusted basis of achieving our objectives. At the same time, General Perna’s role has been to create a distribution and an administration architecture ensuring any or all six of these vaccines translate into actual vaccinations.
Paul Mango: (36:44)
So while Dr. Slaoui’s odds of success improved with every vaccine in the portfolio, the complexity of General Perna’s tasks grew exponentially. Some vaccine requires two doses, some require one. Some need adjuvant and some need a diluent. Some injections are 21 days apart. Some are 28 days apart. Some need small needles and syringes. Others need large ones, some need to be stored at minus 80 degrees, Celsius others at room temperature. I think you get the point. Nonetheless, General Perna and his team from the Army Logistics Command along with the Centers for Disease Control and Dr. Redfield are meticulously working through these issues. But it’s best that Dr. Slaoui and General Perna describe all of this in their own words. Dr. Slaoui.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (37:34)
Thank you. Thank you, Paul. Apologies, Gus. Just getting more complicated. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen. [inaudible 00:37:47] Significant progress is being made to Operation Warp Speed in the development of vaccines against COVID-19 for the American people and for the world. However, obviously there’s still much more that needs to be accomplished before we can effectively take controls of this pandemic and get back to our normal life.
Paul Mango: (38:07)
Hey, Dr. Slaoui, I’m sorry. You just need this microphone. Sorry to interrupt you here. That one’s not working. Turn that on. We just need to turn that on. Yeah. Sorry about that.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (38:18)
So I [inaudible 00:38:20] that’s what I do is summarize where we are in the development of COVID-19 vaccine. How come we have been so fast? Why? I believe it’s very important that Americans and people around the globe trust the effectiveness and safety of this vaccine. And of course, I also want to acknowledge and thank the many participants from the private sector to the academics, to the US government employees to the volunteers who participated in the clinical trials and the hundreds and thousands and tens of thousands of people across various industries that have enabled and made possible where we are today.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (39:02)
So over the past seven months, what we have done is to say let’s select a portfolio of vaccines rather than bet on only one or two, and let’s drive all six in fact at the initiation, we thought we could have eight. Let’s drive them in [inaudible 00:39:23] as safely and securely as possible. And we designed that portfolio by selecting what we call platform technologies. I’ll explain that more in a second and decided to take two examples of each platform technology in order to increase our chances to succeed because failure is the normal life of research and development, and success is rare.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (39:54)
And success in this case not only meant that we would have a vaccine, but that we would have a vaccine on time and that we would have a vaccine that can be manufactured in tens of millions and then very quickly into hundreds of millions of doses. These were all enormous challenges. And as we stand today, I think we are beginning to have some successes. Two of the vaccines using one platform technology called Messenger RNA have demonstrated I believe exceptional efficacy, 95 efficacy on average against disease.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (40:34)
Importantly, they have both 100% efficacy against severe disease. They are equivalently efficacious in people over the age of 65 and importantly also in the diverse population that constitute our nation. I think there are very important achievements and these two vaccines, one by Pfizer and one by Moderna remarkably gave similar results, even though they were developed completely independently and designed completely independently.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (41:09)
In fact, at the onset competitively, these two vaccines will be reviewed by the FDA as you know on December 7th for the Pfizer vaccine and on December 17 for the Moderna vaccine. And we hope I read today the comments from the FDA that are encouraging that we hope these vaccines are likely to be approved and made available into several tens of millions of doses very quickly to the US population.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (41:40)
Two other vaccines from the portfolio using a different platform technology, which are a virus that’s unable to replicate, that cannot infect you, but is able to deliver to you the vaccine are in advanced phase three trials. One of them by Johnson & Johnson has already recruited more than 35,000 subjects in the phase three trial. And Mr. President explained that that vaccine is a one-shot vaccine, which in the context of a pandemic is really a major advantage because people can achieve protection quickly after having received one dose and we don’t have to rely on them coming back for a second dose. I’m not saying two dose is bad. I’m just saying one of those is even better than two dose.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (42:25)
That vaccine is likely to complete its efficacy trial in terms of assessing efficacy of the vaccine probably early in the month of January and hopefully would file for emergency use authorization either late in January or early in February. That’s important because we are likely to have a third vaccine somewhere in February hopefully if the appropriate efficacy and safety profile of course are achieved. And there is a second vaccine using similar platform technology by AstraZeneca, that vaccine is also being tested in a phase three trial here in the US where 17,000+ subjects have already been recruited. And where we project that efficacy may be achieved somewhere in the end of January or early February. And maybe by late February or early March, that vaccine could become available if approved by the FDA to further increase the number of vaccine doses we have to immunize the nation and the world.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (43:28)
And finally, we have two more vaccines using a third platform technology, which is a more classical platform technology using recombinant proteins. And these are vaccines by a biotech company here in the US called Novavax and another one by two large pharma and vaccine companies that put their efforts together, Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline. These vaccines are in phase two trials and should be starting the phase three trials in the next few weeks or days. And if proven efficacious, they may before the middle of the year, again, be able to apply for emergency use authorization and further add to our menu of vaccines with hopefully comparable efficacy and various advantages in terms of cold chain requirements and storage and other features.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (44:22)
So in summary, I would say we have two in the hand substantially, the two RNA vaccines, two close by and two come. We plan to manufacture enough of these vaccines to immunize about 20 million of our citizens before the end of this year, about 30 million in the month of January and about 50 million in the month of February. Those would be immunizations that require two doses of vaccine. And we hope to either have more vaccine doses of the Messenger RNA vaccines and/or more vaccine doses from the other portfolio vaccine that I cited to complete the immunization of the rest of our population, which we project could be done by the month of June if everybody accept which we hope to be vaccinated.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (45:27)
So how come we have developed so many vaccines so quickly? Well, really this is what the operation has achieved. And there was a visionary, I think, decision to put together the academic sciences, the industry experience, biotech or pharmaceutical, the US government entities in terms of the Human Services Agency and the Department of Defense. The logistics, the capabilities, the project management, the deep science, the industrial experience were all put together, financed, freed from bureaucracy and empowered to make decisions. And I have to say it has worked remarkably well.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (46:21)
Yet, that was, I think, the necessary context in which speed was able to be achieved. But specifically, why were we so fast? Three main reasons. The first reason is we were able to cut the front part of the discovery and development process of a vaccine from years to literally weeks thanks to the use of what’s called platform technologies. It’s a little bit like if you had imagine a cassette player can play classic music if you put a classic music tape or rock and roll, if you put a rock and roll tape, 99% of the cassette player is of course the same. Only the tape changes and you have a very different outcome. It’s the same with vaccine.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (47:11)
Platform technologies are a mean by which you can produce a vaccine that induce the right immune responses and you put a different cassette in it to make a different vaccine against a different virus. So when we knew, we as the industry and the academia what the virus that causes COVID-19 is and its sequence, companies were able to take that sequence, plug it in the cassette player of their platform technology and been to the clinic within two months from the discovery of the virus. This is where we cut I would say most of the time, those platform technologies have been invested into for decades for some of them. And at least for 10 years, for instance, the Messenger RNA.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (47:56)
They have been into the clinic with other vaccine. They have been developed for industrial manufacturing. Their toxicology and safety in animals was described. We didn’t cut corners. We use what was known and built on it. And I think that’s really super important for everybody to understand. The second thing that allowed us to accelerate was that we took every possible operational and financial risk. We planned everything in parallel. We spent all the money before we knew whether things were going to work. We planned phase one, phase two, phase three trials in parallel. Of course we didn’t progress in parallel. We only progressed when the FDA said, “It’s fine, it’s safe to progress.”
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (48:41)
But we selected hundreds of sites for clinical trial, for instance well before we knew we could ever run the clinical trial. That’s not what you do normally. That costs a billion dollars effectively, those clinical trials. We also invested enormous amounts of money to tune or build, equip and then scale up the manufacturing process for these vaccines. Even hire people and train them into the manufacturing facilities. What we need to realize is no industry has idle manufacturing capabilities waiting for the next pandemic.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (49:18)
So there was a huge challenge, frankly, the bigger challenge to be able to find those manufacturing capabilities, source the raw materials. My colleague General Perna and his team have done unbelievable job in enabling the access to the raw materials to the equipment, to the engineers, to wherever it is that was needed to be able to drive the speed of manufacturing. That’s how we were able to have millions of doses of vaccine before the vaccines are approved. That’s never how it works in real life.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (49:50)
And then the third reason why we went very fast was that we ran very large trials for the efficacy to assess efficacy of the vaccines. In the context of a pandemic, running a very big trial actually accelerates the speed with which you run the clinical trial, because it allows you to accrue more cases in the trial. And having cases in the trials is what allows you to assess whether the vaccine is efficacious or not. Unfortunately, also the speeding up of the pandemic and transmission of the virus has helped. And we were able to achieve thanks to that a much faster completion of the efficacy trial.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (50:29)
As a second objective of having very large clinical trials is that we have a much larger database to document the short-term and mid-term safety of these vaccines. Normally six to 8,000 subjects in a clinical trial is what’s required for approval of a new vaccine. These are the key reasons why we have been able to accelerate the development of these vaccines. We did not cut corners and these are the reason why I really have a plea to all of us to keep our minds open, to keep our ears open, to remain receptive to facts, to science, to information that will be made aware transparently.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (51:17)
You will witness that as of Thursday through the FDA process, where every single bit of information and data that has been generated will be available and accessible to everybody to look into. Identify those experts that you know and that you trust and ask them what they think of the data. Listen to the data yourself and make up your mind. We have 95% efficacy, almost an insurance against this pandemic and a 100% efficacy against severe disease. A disease that killed more than 200,000, almost 300,000 people, getting more than 2000 every day. Those are the risks we know and they are happening every day. I hope most of us will accept to be vaccinated because that’s the way through which we will be able to control this pandemic. Otherwise, vaccines that are not used are useless. Vaccination is what’s important.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (52:22)
Finally, while great progress has been made. As I said in the beginning, we still have a lot to do. We still have vaccines that are being tested in phase three. I told you that the Johnson & Johnson vaccine has recruited 35,000 subject. We need to get to 42,000. That’s our objective. The AstraZeneca recruited 17,000. We need to get to 30,000. And the two protein vaccines are going to start their phase three trials in the next few weeks. So we need all of you please to volunteer or continue to volunteer to participate into the clinical trials. Because it is thanks to the 44,000 volunteers who participated in the Pfizer trial and 30,000 volunteers who participated in the Moderna trial that we have been able to assess that these vaccines work.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (53:14)
It is your generous action and I would call on your civic sense to please continue to participate in the clinical trials, even if two vaccines may very well be approved in the next few weeks. And I would say there’s in that not only an action that will help our country and the world in that it defines that more vaccines can be shown to be efficacious. But that action is also frankly helpful to you. You’ve heard me say we can immunize 20 million people in December, 30 million in January 50 million in February. If you participate in a clinical trial, you have 50% chance to have the vaccine now. And for some other trial depending on how randomization is done, you might have 66% to have vaccine now, and these trials are running so fast.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui: (54:11)
When the trial complete, you will have also a chance if you received the placebo to get vaccination immediately once the trial has run out. So please continue to participate, continue to help. We are continuing to drive as fastly and as safely as we can the development and manufacturing of this vaccine. And I know General Perna is working very hard with his team to ensure that they make it to the location where you will be able to be immunized. General, up to you now. Thank you.
General Gustave F. Perna: (55:00)
Can everybody hear me all right?
Speaker 14: (55:01)
General Gustave F. Perna: (55:02)
Great. Well, thank you. And it’s a great honor to be here and it’s a great honor to co-lead this separate with Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a world-renowned scientist. And I just tell you a personal friend and somebody that’s helped me grow personally and professionally over the last six to seven months. And again, Dr. Slaoui thank you so much. [inaudible 00:55:27] clear to everybody that I am not a scientist, I am a soldier, and I’m very proud to be a soldier. I serve under Secretary McCarthy and Chief of Staff of the Army General McConville. And I just feel obligated to say it is an honor to serve our country and our nation as a soldier.
General Gustave F. Perna: (55:51)
And I just want to say thanks to all the service men and women that are out there every day sacrificing for what we do. Since the moment I’ve been appointed as a co-leader of this task force, every waking moment is about one purpose and Dr. Slaoui and I have this purpose together. It is about saving American lives. There is nothing else that has our focus but saving American lives. And we’re doing that by delivering safe and effective therapeutics and vaccines to the American people.
General Gustave F. Perna: (56:32)
And how did this come to fruition? As quickly said earlier by Dr. Slaoui, it’s come to fruition because of our approach or our approach being a whole of America effort. It was led at the government at the highest levels of the government by Secretary Azar and Secretary Miller of the Department of Defense. It has been supported and collaborated by our great industry partners that are represented here today. And I’ll call some out in the future. But trust me, when I tell you we couldn’t do it without them.
General Gustave F. Perna: (57:07)
And then it has been contributed through great academia conversations about innovation. How are we able to act in an agile and adaptive way to the COVID and achieve success of what we’re trying to do? So it was this collaboration of this effort that I just cannot express enough to all of us how important this was. Future problems facing us need to always have this type of collaboration if we want to ensure success. It’s been a Herculean effort as Dr. Slaoui we talked about. We have focused, we have built brick and mortar capability and capacity, expanded already capability that existed so that we could ensure that we have vaccines when they were approved.
General Gustave F. Perna: (57:57)
We have prioritized materials from around the world into our industry partners. We have prioritized medical equipment into our industry partners to achieve the success that we’re talking about today. Initial doses in the hundreds of millions, or excuse me, in the tens of millions in December. But we will quickly expand every week, every month that goes by until we have enough vaccine for all the American people. That was our mission. Safe and effective vaccines to the American people.
General Gustave F. Perna: (58:32)
Now we’re at a stage as Dr. Slaoui said, we’re on precipices of having vaccines approved. So what is next? Because we don’t want to get out in front of ourselves. As my father used to say, “You can only spike the football when you’re in the end zone.” Well, what is the end zone described as here? Shots in arms. And so we want to make sure that we have a distribution plan that is capable of taking the vaccines that are available on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis, and ensuring a distribution to the American people.
General Gustave F. Perna: (59:10)
How do we do that? Three cornerstones to our plan. First and foremost, we went to the CDC experts, not part-time. Experts in managing vaccines and medicines in distribution to the American people. We collaborated and we partnered with them, led by Dr. Redfield. Supported and providing leadership through Dr. Butler, Dr. Messonnier, Dr. Patel and hundreds of others that are true professionals in how to manage and distribute this vaccine. Very, very important to our success.
General Gustave F. Perna: (59:54)
Second, we went to private industry. Why? Private industry knows how to do this. They do it every day. They do it quietly. They do it professionally. They do it with expertise. Vaccines and medicines flowing throughout our country every single day. And who’s doing it? Private industry. We went to them. We collaborated with them. We took their good ideas. We put them into our plan. The CDC integrated, synchronized, coordinating their capabilities and capacity of industry to ensure that we have a well-nested plan for distribution.
General Gustave F. Perna: (01:00:39)
And then what was the last thing? Key to our success. It’s not our plan that needs to be implemented perfectly. It is the governors’ plans that we want to enable, that we want to empower, that we want to make sure that we can execute according to their priorities and guidance. They know their states. They know their people. They are being informed by highly professional medical personnel that know their people and their states. Our position is to enable them.
General Gustave F. Perna: (01:01:19)
So it is this trifecta, the CDC, commercial industry and the governors and their states that is going to make us successful at the end of the day. Trust me, it is about collaboration. It is about unity of effort. It is not about command and control. This is what the operation’s been able to synchronize and integrate. So as said earlier, what is our goal? Our goal is upon EUA, emergency use authorization, which will be determined by the FDA. We will start moving vaccines within 24 hours. We will move them throughout the entire United-
General Gustave F. Perna: (01:02:03)
We will move them throughout the entire United States of America, 50 states, eight territories, six mega cities and five federal agencies. We know, right based on the allocations that were available to us for Pfizer vaccine and our allocation process was by pro rata to the population of each state, territory or city, above the age of 18 to ensure fair, an equitable distribution of vaccine every day. We know that for Pfizer vaccine, based on our allocation, we know exactly as of last Friday where the states want the vaccine distributed too. We know the locations by address. We know the populations based on the amounts that they want at each location. We know this as a fact. We are already sharing this information with industry, which I’ll talk about in a minute, what they’re going to do with it so that they can plan, package and prepare to distribute.
General Gustave F. Perna: (01:03:09)
This week, we’re working on the Moderna vaccine initial allocation patients with the states. And by this Friday, we will have all the locations for the Moderna vaccine allocation from the states. We’ll know where they want it and we’ll know how much they want it. So within a one week period, we’ve been able to accumulate, process, inform and collaborate where the vaccines going to. Key to our success. So now we have EUA. We have the information we need, where it’s going, how much is going, so how is it going. First, the Pfizer vaccine is depicted up front, top half of the chart. Their goal is to deliver a vaccine to the right side of the chart on all those places and locations that we wanted to go to. Pfizer has chosen to do their own delivery of vaccine in collaboration with us and then our priorities to distribution capabilities, FedEx and UPS.
General Gustave F. Perna: (01:04:19)
And they will distribute through FedEx and UPS. And FedEx and UPS will break down the vaccine by location and then distribute it to the final locations accordingly. The Moderna vaccine is going a little bit differently. Moderna chose to have a distributor come in and help them. McKesson is going to take responsibility for that. They’re going to break down the vaccine. They will repackage it. Then they will distribute it through FedEx and UPS down to the final administration sites as directed by the governors. At the end of the day, whether it’s Pfizer or Moderna, excuse me, our capability and capacity is something that we know how to do. And we know how to track and how to implement it and how to make sure that the vaccine is delivered. It is delivered safely. It is delivered to ensure the stability of the vaccine. And it is delivered securely to the locations that we said. This is why we put this all together.
General Gustave F. Perna: (01:05:28)
It will be a Herculean task, but I am confident, as I said. The planning by the CDC, the collaboration by our partners, McKesson, FedEx, UPS, CVS, Walgreens. That we will be able to execute this vaccine very efficiently, but more importantly, effectively. As we start to deliver the vaccine, we will be able to track every single vaccine from start to finish. We have worked in great collaboration with commercial industry. We have developed a capacity or capability to track every vaccine. We will see from point A to point B. We will understand how the vaccine is being administered in arms. And we will continue to flow vaccine to support the use at the administration sites. The key is flow of available vaccine. We are not waiting for a monthly cycle of delivery of vaccine. Every day, every week that vaccine becomes available, allocations will be provided to the states and we will start and we will execute a predictable and consistent cadence of vaccine delivery.
General Gustave F. Perna: (01:06:50)
We will do that by providing allocations to the states. States will tell us where they want the vaccines to go. And then we will deliver the vaccines in accordance to the process that I told you. What is the greatness of this? It is about making sure that we get the initial doses out, following EUA within 24 hours, and then providing a steady cadence of vaccine, so that planners can plan. And then people who are going to have to administer understand the timing of administration, where we can notify persons to come get shots and be available. It is the flow we’re trying to create that will determine our success. I’m very excited about this. I’m very excited about the amount of work that’s gone into this. Somebody said to me the other day, “Oh, I heard there’s EUA coming about, are you guys going to start planning?”
General Gustave F. Perna: (01:07:49)
I said, start planning. We literally started planning as Dr. Slaoui talked about seven months ago. It was in parallel that we executed this. We assumed success so that we could get ahead of the problem. It was because of the great efforts by the CDC, the collaboration of commercial industry and the state’s Herculean effort to plan for the people to receive shots that were going to be successful. So with that said, I will tell you, I am 100% confident that we will be able to implement this. That with our collaboration of the trifecta there, we will be successful and we will start to have shots in arms within 96 hours of EUA. That’s what I believe with all my heart. And I am counting on it because I, for one have told my mother, “Get the vaccine.” I’ve told my sons, “Get the vaccine.”
General Gustave F. Perna: (01:08:55)
That’s how competent I am in this. So I asked for you as Dr. Slaoui said at the end, all of us, the American people, we can beat this only together. We can do this, if we do it together. Be informed. Don’t be led. Understand, do your research, hold yourself accountable to hearing both sides of the story and then make an individual decision that’s best for yourself and your family and your community. And if we do that, we will be successful and we will defeat the enemy, which is COVID. So with that said, thank you everybody for your time. It’s a real pleasure.
Speaker 15: (01:09:56)
Okay. I’m not sure there’s two more humble, selfless, competent leaders in the country. So congratulations, gentlemen. It’s been a pleasure working with you. I have to tell a short anecdote about Dr. Slaoui. He’s pretty reticent about telling folks he’s the most successful vaccine developer in the world today. So after he decided what his slate of six vaccines was going to be, we took them through a little exercise. We said, there’s three criteria we want you to evaluate the probability of. Will it get through phase three clinical trials and get an EUA? Will it be effective in persons over 65? And will we have tens of millions of doses of each? Six vaccines, three criteria, 18 total. Factors we came out with, if you remember about, this was way last summer. 75% probability we’d have at least one of those, about 30% probability we’d have two.
Speaker 15: (01:10:52)
So choosing that slate was so vital to our success today. And Dr. Slaoui was once again, spot on. Now we move on to objective number two, which is building confidence, and you will have Adam Boehler, who’s been one of the Operation Warp Speed board members have a discussion with Dr. Peter Marks, who’s the director for the Center of Biologics Evaluation and Research. For those of you who don’t know that it’s the agency that will actually evaluate and hopefully approve the emergency use authorizations for the vaccines. And they’re going to talk through the truly gold standard process that the FDA has utilized over the last several months. They’ve had input into the clinical trials. They’re obviously vital to evaluating for emergency use.
Speaker 15: (01:11:45)
Now, Peter has been very gracious. He’s literally has staff working three shifts, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. He did not want to leave his staff today to come down and talk to you, but we thought it was much more important for the American people to hear from him briefly about the rigorous process, the exacting process that he is taking his team through to evaluate these. And when he’s done, he’s going to head right back out to the FDA. So thank you for that, Dr. Marks. And Adam Boehler and Dr. Marks come on out. And Adam, it’s all yours.
Adam Boehler: (01:12:32)
Thanks very much, [inaudible 00:10:33]. Do you hear me okay? Is it working? Well, thanks so much for joining me, Dr. Marks. And I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know you over the last number of months, and you lead an unbelievable team of physicians and scientists at the FDA. And I know the American people owe it to all of you for your hard work. So first thank you very much for being here.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:12:57)
Thank you very much.
Adam Boehler: (01:12:58)
Let me start, obviously, this has been an unbelievably rapid development cycle from a vaccine perspective. So maybe take us through what is the difference between this approach versus the traditional approach, which would take so long. So takes us through that.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:13:16)
Right. So I think Dr. Slaoui alluded to this, but I’ll just kind of try to say in a different way. Normally vaccine development is something that is de-risked, so that one completes each step, stops, looks, then goes to the next step. Stops, looks, then goes to the next step. And at the end of the process, one really ramps up manufacturing. What was done here is instead of that cereal one after the other process, many things were collapsed and done at the same time. And I think General Perna noted that instead of waiting until the very end to decide how you’re going to distribute the vaccine, instead of waiting until the end to decide that you’re going to manufacture large amounts of vaccine at risk, these were done at the same time.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:14:01)
And what that means by doing things in a parallel manner, is that corners were not cut here. These vaccines are going through the large kinds of trials that we would expect from prophylactic vaccines, preventative vaccines that are going to be given to large numbers of people. Just to give you just a number, the average vaccine development program for the kinds of prophylactic preventative vaccines that we’re talking about is about 21750 people enrolled. So these programs with from 30000 to 45000, 44000 patients enrolled per individuals enrolled. That’s a pretty nice size program. And so that’s giving us kind of the gold standard types of a clinical trial program that we’d like to see for preventative vaccines.
Adam Boehler: (01:15:01)
Thank you, Dr. Marks. Now, one question that circling and Dr. Slaoui just talked about it, is whether Americans should take this vaccine. So let me ask that question to you is why should Americans trust these vaccines?
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:15:15)
So the reason why I’m sitting here today and the reason why we’re going through the process that we’re going through at FDA is so that Americans can trust a vaccine that they’re going to receive. The FDA is known around the world for its regulatory rigor. We’re one of the only regulators in the world where we don’t just take the data that’s handed to us from companies and look at it. We actually take the data listings, the raw data that gets sent to us and do analysis ourselves on that. And it’s a group of over 150 people working right now at FDA to go through and do these type of analysis to make sure that the vaccine is what it says it is. To make sure we fully understand the side effect profile. To understand sometimes we learn things that the manufacturers didn’t even know about their own vaccines by doing our analysis.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:16:09)
And so by doing that hard work, the folks are making sure that when it comes through this process, we’re going to have a vaccine that has efficacy that we can trust, safety that we can trust and quality that we can trust. Which is what Americans deserve, because all the people working at FDA right now are thinking about this vaccine as if it’s one that they want to take. They want to have their families take, and then have our extended family in the United States take. And this is really important that we’re only going to get there, if we do this all together by taking vaccines together. This is a time where we have to rebuild our trust in vaccines. And we hope by the transparent process that we’re using, by going to an advisory committee in the public view, where people will see the data that’s being put forth. Where there’ll be a discussion among academic experts of the safety effectiveness and the quality of these vaccines that people will see nothing’s being hidden.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:17:15)
That these are vaccines, that when we say at FDA they’re safe and effective, it means we’ve done our best job to make sure that they are safe and effective for all of us to roll up our sleeves and take.
Adam Boehler: (01:17:27)
Thank you, Peter. Could you expand a little bit on the clinical trial process? I mean the size, the scope. Give me a little sense of that.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:17:34)
So these clinical trials that involve the randomization, so flipping a coin and putting a one-to-one, person getting a placebo or an inactive product versus the active vaccine. Where we have 15000 people in each arm to compare them means that we have a very large size trial, which not only lets us get to the efficacy quicker as Dr. Slaoui noted, but also gives us a very nice size safety database. And although normally we’d like to have longer follow-up of individuals perhaps than we’ll have right now, we’re able to make up for that by following the people who were in the clinical trials for longer periods of time. And by the fact that over the past 10 years in the United States, we’ve developed a very robust safety surveillance system, which uses large databases covering hundreds of millions of lives. To be able to look at specific adverse events, to make sure that there aren’t problems coming up after these vaccines are given to people.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:18:39)
And we wouldn’t let them out there in the first place, if we thought that there was any significant chance of that, but we are going to make sure by monitoring them that there aren’t things that emerge as they’re used.
Adam Boehler: (01:18:54)
What happens next? I mean, I know obviously the FDA is going to go through their process. A lot of people are expecting. We all hope for authorization. So assuming that happens, assuming you went through an issue the EUA, what happens next?
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:19:10)
So after an emergency use authorization is granted, well, there’ll be several things that will happen. But the advisory committee of immunization practices will make further recommendations about use of the vaccine. The vaccine will then get into General Perna’s hands and they will get it out there. And we will activate our safety surveillance system. There will actually then be in the coming months, additional trials that will be done on these vaccines, because there are populations that we still don’t have information on that we have to get the information. Children, pregnant women, among them, that we’ll get more data on these vaccines, so that we’ll be able to ultimately hopefully by late spring, start to vaccinate the entire population and get to children so that we actually then stop the entire COVID cycle.
Adam Boehler: (01:20:07)
And I know once it gets into General Perna’s hands, was it plus a day? Less? That’s it.
Speaker 16: (01:20:13)
Adam Boehler: (01:20:18)
One final question for you, Dr. Marks, which is expand a little bit on how important it is for every American to get this vaccine or not. Feel free to say.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:20:29)
I think it’s really critical here to understand that what we’re doing at FDA is trying to make sure that people have the confidence to use vaccines. Vaccines have been an incredible public health advance. Our agency has been regulating vaccines for over 100 years since actually before the Center for Biologics, the precursor actually predated the Food and Drug Administration. It was established by the Biologics Control Act of 1902 for anyone who wants some history lesson. And so we’ve been doing this for a while. The first or second biologics license was for a smallpox vaccine. So we’ve been doing this. And so we got a pretty good sense of what safety looks like for a vaccine. And we’ve seen what vaccines can do. Eliminated smallpox.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:21:17)
Polio is something that nobody sees anymore in the United States because it’s gone pretty much. Even measles, we don’t see because as long as we keep getting our children vaccinated, we don’t have measles outbreaks in the United States. So it’s a huge transformation from vaccines. And we would not allow vaccines to go out there if they weren’t safe and effective. And when we see safety signals, we deal with them. So it’s critical here that we all trust in the outcome of this process, because we all need to bring this crisis to an end together and getting vaccinated is kind of the first step there. What we have right now is we can wear masks. We can wash our hands and we can stay social distance. With the vaccine, we can finally help drive this away, and have it go the way hopefully, if smallpox to being something that’s only in high bio-containment laboratories.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:22:15)
And that’s only going to happen if a large fraction of eligible people take the vaccine.
Adam Boehler: (01:22:22)
Well, thank you, Dr. Marks. I mean, Washington can be a difficult town, but you and your team and the group here show that this is not a partisan effort. It’s an American effort. And so as an American, I want to really say how much I appreciate all your work and your team’s work.
Dr. Peter Marks: (01:22:37)
Thanks very much. I have to say, I have an incredible team of diverse individuals who are so committed to this, that they have worked tirelessly, and they’ll continue to work tirelessly with these vaccines and additional vaccines until we have what we need to beat COVID-19. (silence)
Speaker 15: (01:25:10)
So I think we’re going to call this the show and tell panel, but just a little story about Dr. Peter Marks. A little known fact, he’s actually the one who coined the term Operation Warp Speed so many months ago, and was actually very involved early on in the initial aggregation of the vaccine candidates from around the world that were eventually screened. And as I said, we determined there were six that would be good candidates. So we’re going to now turn to the topic of logistics, the logistics of vaccine distribution, and we’ll have the assistant secretary of health known pretty well to many of you Admiral Brett Giroir. He’ll lead a panel comprising Shawn Siemens from McKesson, Richard Smith from FedEx, Wes Wheeler from UPS and Marc Casper from Thermo Fisher.
Speaker 15: (01:25:58)
And I think just is a good time to reinforce again, the vital role that the public private partnership and Operation Warp Speed is playing. And we’ve made this statement before with the exception of a very few federal agencies, such as The Veterans Administration, maybe the Indian Health Service and a couple of others. It’s highly unlikely that a federal employee will touch a vaccine dose before it’s injected into American’s arms. Highly unlikely a federal employee will touch that dose. And that goes to General Perna’s point about this public private partnership and all of our great partners. We’re going to depend on them. And they possess, we believe, the most well-developed inventory management, transport, distribution, logistics, and vaccine administration capabilities in the world.
Speaker 15: (01:26:45)
We’re simply building upon their foundation. We’ve already delivered close to 200 million flu vaccines just this season, in the last four or five months in conjunction with the CDC and companies like those you’ll hear from shortly. So this is again, a great group of companies, are public private partnership, and I’m going to hand it off to Admiral Brett Giroir to take us through the next panel.
Admiral Brett Giroir: (01:27:26)
We’ll get it. Can you hear me? Is it on? Okay, great. Good afternoon, everyone. I’m very honored to be here. And I do want to say we are here representing many individuals, Surgeon General, Vice Admiral Adams, [inaudible 01:27:43] and myself are members of the United States Public Health Service Commission Corps, 6100 men and women. Are all health professionals, who’ve been at the frontline of this pandemic. 4300 have been deployed. The other 1800 are on the frontline in the Indian Health Service Bureau of Prison. So shout out to all of them who are currently deployed.
Admiral Brett Giroir: (01:28:11)
I am here with four great companies. We’re talking about their role in Operation Warp Speed, but they have been essential to our efforts to bring PPE, to distribute therapies like monoclonal antibodies, to bring tests throughout the country. What you’re going to hear here is only the tip of the iceberg of what they’ve done to support this pandemic response in our country. You heard their names, but Shawn Siemens, President RxCrossroads, Executive Sponsor, Enterprise COVID Vaccine Program with McKesson. Marc Casper, Chairman, President, and CEO of Thermo Fisher. Wes Wheeler, President UPS Healthcare. And finally Richard Smith, Regional President of the Americas for FedEx. So I’m going to leave with a few questions. My first one, I’m going to direct at our colleagues from McKesson. So let’s talk generally, what is your role, and you saw it on the board earlier, in distributing vaccines, including kitting of the needed supplies like syringes and needles?
Shawn Siemens: (01:29:20)
Well, thank you admiral for your leadership. And I want to thank all of our public private partners in Operation Warp Speed. It’s both an honor, and a privilege for McKesson to play such an important role at this time for our country. For those of you who are not familiar with McKesson, we’re one of the largest healthcare companies in the world. We are doing lots of things. Our primary role is distributing pharmaceuticals and medical surgical supplies to end sites of care, hospitals, physician office, clinics, etc. We also have an extensive background in vaccines, been the proud supporter of the CDC Vaccines for Children’s Program for the last 13 plus years. And we are the largest distributor of seasonal flu in the United States. We were also the centralized distributor for H1N1 during that pandemic. And we stand ready to meet this moment right now in the time of COVID vaccine delivery for our country.
Shawn Siemens: (01:30:10)
So we have two primary roles. The first is centralized distributor of vaccines and ancillary supply kits. The second is of the producer of those ancillary supply kits. And that’s where I want to start. I’ve actually got an example of the kit here that I can show on this very crowded table. So you can see it’ll come in a box like this. We have produced enough of these kits to administer over 150 million doses of vaccine at this point. We’d been well at work manufacturing these kits for the better part of the last two and a half months. And that kit right there will have enough supplies to administer 100 doses of vaccine, which is what will accompany most of the vaccine deliveries as part of this program. We’re also doing another kit specific to Pfizer, which has the same supplies in it. Needles, syringes, face masks, face shield, alcohol wipe swabs, etc.
Shawn Siemens: (01:31:09)
And enough quantities to meet the Pfizer minimum, which is 975 doses. So we will be shipping as you saw in the schematic, the Pfizer kits directly to the onsite of administration, either in advance or at the same time to meet up with that Pfizer vaccine. And then we will be distributing that kit there, the 100 dose kit to our vaccine facilities so that we can ultimately marry them up with the vaccines to send out to the inside of administration. So that leads me to our second role, and that is the centralized distributor. And so they’re, I just want to point out a couple of quick things, as you saw in the schematic and heard from General Perna. We are not making any allocation decisions. That is all done by the CDC Operation Warp Speed and the states and their plans.
Shawn Siemens: (01:31:54)
We are program. You heard 50000 sites. This program is set up to ship to any number of sites. We can do hundreds of thousands of sites if necessary, effectively anywhere where FedEx or UPS can go we can get a vaccine. So let me just quickly talk you through Moderna and how that process is going to work. So Moderna will ship us bulk pallet of product. We will ensure that the temperature integrity was maintained during that shipment. We will quickly get it into a specially designed and custom built freezer in one of our multiple facilities that we have built to support nothing, but COVID vaccines. These freezers have specialized monitoring and alarms to ensure cold chain integrity during the entire time it’s with McKesson.
Shawn Siemens: (01:32:39)
From there, we will take the orders in from the CDC in terms of numbers of doses and where they need to be shipped. We will pull those individual orders from the pallet, pack them into a specialized shipper, which this is the smallest frozen shipper. These are also custom designed for this program. And then we will put in specialized cooling packs. We will not be using dry ice for-
Speaker 17: (01:33:03)
… cooling packs. We will not be using dry ice for any vaccine that McKesson ships as part of this program. So Moderna and any of the refrigerated vaccines. And then the last thing we’ll do is put a temperature monitor in so that the first thing the site of administration sees when they open it up is that there was no excursion on that product. And so that is the program. We are ready to start shipping both vaccines and ancillary supplies today and as soon as there’s an EUA.
Admiral Giroir: (01:33:27)
Outstanding. Thank you very much. I want to turn the next question to Mr. Smith, as well as Mr. Wheeler, FedEx and UPS. So everyone knows, and you heard the logistical challenges that were brought up by General Perna and everyone, particularly the cold chain requirements for Pfizer. Walk us through a bit on how each of your companies approach this problem and what steps are you doing to meet the challenges of this distribution and cold chain?
Mr. Smith: (01:33:58)
Sure. I’m happy to take that. And I’ll tag team it with Wes. I’ll start at the macro. First and foremost, this is who we are and what we do. This is not foreign to us. Between us and UPS, we move millions of vaccines every year. So we have the network capabilities connecting 220 countries and territories, 99% of the world’s GDP, and servicing every zip code in the United States of America. We have the cold chain infrastructure, particularly in the event of some sort of a delay, where we can stage product, even ultra cold freezers, which we’ve been adding and UPS has been adding to support some of the MRNA vaccines that have those deep frozen or ultra cold requirements.
Mr. Smith: (01:34:44)
And we plan for surge events every year with our customers. And these healthcare companies, the manufacturers, the distributors, they’re already our customers. So we know them well, we know their business well, we work well together. And we plan for these things every year. We jump into action and use our networks in times of disaster relief and deliver for good, as we like to say at FedEx, into effected communities when that happens. So we’re well-versed in planning for this. So we’ve spent a lot of time on that. I think a lot of the onus on protecting the vaccine is on the packaging side. And I know Wes is going to talk a little bit to that. So I’ll hand it over to you, Wes.
Sure. Thanks. Before we talk about the packaging, I just want to … We’ve been involved with the pandemic since the very beginning with the movement of over 20 million pounds of PPE into the country from China and all over the world. We are very, very much involved all the way through the process. Of course, then we got involved with the clinical trials. In fact, we were the principal supplier of the logistics for Pfizer’s clinical trial. And some of that trial is still ongoing for some of the ancillary components later on. We have worked, as soon as April, we’ve started a full time vaccine task force, started to look at all the various components. We mapped out tens of thousands of lanes across the country, across the world, very similar to what FedEx has done, to make sure that we had the capacity across the United States in every single jurisdiction of the US, plus the world. So that’s been what we’ve been doing to get ready for this. I think temperature control is something that’s very, very important. We can talk about perhaps, Admiral Giroir, in the next segment.
Admiral Giroir: (01:36:31)
Fantastic. I didn’t know if you wanted to show us now about the equipment, the shipper box that you brought. I think it’s a good time to do that.
Okay. I’m going to ask Charlton to come up for a second. Okay. So we have two boxes here. This is how Pfizer’s box will be shipped. Pfizer has designed this packaged exclusively for them and for the Pfizer vaccine. There’s four components in the box. It’s a thermal shipper. In the bottom, there’s dry ice. In the middle, there’s the payload. And on top, there’s more dry ice. And on the very top of the box, you’ll see, and you can show that here, is a controlling device that can tracks the GPS location of this box. Plus, there’s a thermal temperature probe that goes into the payload to make sure the temperature at minus 70 degrees Celsius is actually maintained throughout the journey.
So this box will be ready. They’ll be shipped from two locations, Michigan and Wisconsin. They’ll come to our locations at FedEx and also at UPS in Louisville, Kentucky. And we will have all the data that comes from this box streaming into our command center. We have a 24/7 command center in Louisville, Kentucky. And all the data streaming in from that box will come in to us. In addition to our own tracking device, which you’ll see here. This box actually went through a couple of tests recently. So you’ll see there’s a tag on here. Where’s the tag?
Speaker 18: (01:38:02)
It’s over here, Wes.
Speaker 18: (01:38:04)
It’s over here.
On the other side? Got the wrong side. This tag here has multiple radios built into it. Every box will have one of these tags attached. And this tag is actually communicating to our command center every time it hits a UPS location. So we’ll have that data, we’ll have the Pfizer data, and on top of that, we have a Sentry device which I’ll ask Charlton to pull out. Just this thing here. This will also be attached to every trailer load that comes out of the Pfizer location and the Moderna location and the McKesson location to give real-time GPS data as well as temperature and shock and light exposure. So we have three ways of tracking the data every time a shipment moves.
Now on top of that, one more, once this arrives at each dosing center around the country, UPS will be shipping dry ice to replenish the box. So this will start to sublimate after a few days, which means evaporate. And we will be shipping in this box dry ice, about 42 pounds of dry ice, the day after. This has been something that General Perna’s asked for, something we’ve designed, and we’re prepared to do this from Louisville, Kentucky. And on top, we will be manufacturing 24,000 pounds of dry ice per day. We expect at peak to be shipping about 60,000 to 70,000 pounds of dry ice per day in total. So that’s how it’s going to work.
Admiral Giroir: (01:39:36)
Truly impressive. Very impressive. I want to get to Richard in just a second because I want him to talk about his tracking mechanisms and also what people ask me, this is the busiest shipping time of the year. It’s Christmas. How are you going to deal with saving the world with a pandemic and delivering at Christmas at the same time? But I want to get to Marc Casper now from Thermo Fisher. As the testing guy, Thermo has been involved a lot. Making the machines that do PCR, making the full service test in the tens of millions, tens of millions of tubes of viral transport media. So we’re on each other’s speed dial. But you’re here in a different role because you have a big company and you make a lot of the hardware to keep stuff really cold. So why don’t you talk to us about your ultra low temperature solutions and some of the devices that you brought here?
Marc Casper: (01:40:29)
Sure. So Admiral, thank you for hosting the panel and for all that you’ve done in the response to the pandemic. And I’d also like to thank President Trump, the Vice President Pence, and the entire administration for being in a position that we can be talking about vaccine distribution in so few months. It’s a pretty amazing opportunity to do so. So Thermo Fisher Scientific has been very involved in the pandemic response, as you said. In fact, our microscopes are used to actually identify the spike protein. And a spike protein is what the vaccine then ultimately was able to target. All the way through the testing with PCR, and in many aspects of the vaccine and therapy in terms of using our factories to produce the product as well as our own materials in the product.
Marc Casper: (01:41:12)
But today, when you think about vaccine distribution, it’s really about ultra cold storage. And we, in 1950s, actually started in the process of supplying laboratories with ultra low temperature freezers, minus 80, minus 86 degrees temperature freezer so you can store these vaccines and other biological samples. And our team around the world is ready. In fact, we have made significant investments in our facilities in Asheville, North Carolina, Marietta, Ohio, adding American jobs, millions and millions of dollars of investment to be ready for this day. In fact, when we heard about Operation Warp Speed, we started the hiring because we knew that we needed to be ready so when a vaccine was ready, Thermo Fisher was ready.
Marc Casper: (01:41:58)
And in this vaccine storage unit, this ultra low temperature unit made in North Carolina, effectively, you can store about 5,000 doses. In the typical ones, you can store up to about 300,000 doses. And I will keep it safe and just open up so you can get a sense of at least the scale of it, which is here. And inside, you can store those 5,000 doses. So we’re ready. And as the requirements are needed, we’ll be there to support the efforts of the government.
Admiral Giroir: (01:42:31)
Thank you very much for that. So I’m going to get back to Mr. Smith. So let me rephrase the question. How are you going to keep General Perna and Santa Claus both happy at the same time?
Mr. Smith: (01:42:40)
Sure. Well, you may have noticed when you see our trucks running around your neighborhoods, some of them say FedEx Ground, some of them say FedEx Express. The FedEx Express network is the original Federal Express company that was founded in Memphis, Tennessee in 1973 and pioneered absolutely positively overnight delivery. That is where you ship time definite critical shipments like vaccines. Our Ground system is where the bulk of your Christmas presents and most of the online commerce surge that we’ve seen, that’s who’s out there delivering that. So running discreet networks gives us the focus and the ability to make these vaccines a top priority for us.
Mr. Smith: (01:43:18)
Secondly, you touched on our tracking and monitoring solution. This is our patented SenseAware ID, the latest and greatest in positive control. It gives us real time visibility to every shipment we pick up. So our couriers will affix these tags to every box. Our priority alert agents will be sitting in a 24/7 365 command center monitoring them based on both the traditional scan data and the real-time SenseAware ID node data. But even more importantly than that is what we call FedEx Surround. It is a new platform that we launched in collaboration with Microsoft, which we announced earlier this year. It uses all of that data that we generate every day to give us predictive analytics so that that package is in danger of failing. They can jump into action and intercede before a failure occurs. That is a very profound leap forward and evolutionary leap, if you will, in track and trace technology. And I think it is the future. We’re very proud of it and we’re debuting it and using it in conjunction with this vaccine distribution.
Admiral Giroir: (01:44:28)
So I think we have time for a couple more questions. I’ll just ask generally, we know this is your business, all of you, this is what you do. But did you have to do any special training for your employees, your pilots, anyone in the system to get ready for this mission? Maybe we can start with McKesson first.
Speaker 17: (01:44:45)
Yeah, sure. As you mentioned, this is something that we’re quite familiar with. Very extensive experience in vaccines, although this is a unique environment. So it’s a couple things. One, the Moderna vaccine, given its need to be stored and distributed at negative 15 negative 25 range. We had to specially train, get equipment and specially train, our employees to work and operate in that environment because we are actually taking the doses from that bulk pallet and putting it into the packages within the freezer. So you can imagine you can only do that for a certain period of time, maybe 15, 20 minutes, you have to rotate out. But other than that, the rest of the program is really as we do, we’re just doing it at a bigger scale.
Admiral Giroir: (01:45:25)
Fantastic. Anyone else?
Yeah, I’ll add to that. Of course, we have 3000 pilots in the US. We land up to 500 flights per day and take off every night from Louisville, Kentucky. We ship 60 million flu vaccines a year, and we’re very good at this. We know how to handle biologic drugs. This happens to be a pretty specialized biologic drug because it’s kept at very, very, very low temperatures. So the one thing we’ve had to do is make sure that we have enough dry ice capacity on the aircraft and that we know exactly how to handle the special tracking devices that I explained earlier on that box.
Mr. Smith: (01:46:06)
Yeah. Similar to Wes, we worked with the FAA over the years to safely raise the threshold in terms of how much dry ice we can carry on our aircraft. We’ve installed CO2 monitors, and the crews are well-versed and trained for all sorts of eventualities. We have DG specialists in our operations who are trained in handling dry ice and dangerous goods packages. So this is not new to us. Just like our esteemed competitor over here, we handle millions of vaccine shipments and biologics and other things that have tight temperature control requirements every year.
Admiral Giroir: (01:46:39)
Marc, anything from your side?
Marc Casper: (01:46:42)
Because of the ramp up of hiring over 5,000 new employees this year in the response, the training efforts have been monumental. And we have a phenomenal team. And I couldn’t be more grateful because it’s their work that’s actually put me on the stage, right? It’s all of their hard efforts that has given us the opportunity to play a role in this response.
Admiral Giroir: (01:47:02)
Fantastic. Did you have something else to add?
I’m just going to mention, in terms of scale, remember, this is a peak period for us, for both FedEx and UPS. We shipped 34 million packages yesterday. So we’re estimating that the number of shipments required-
Admiral Giroir: (01:47:16)
My wife ordered most of them, actually.
… Vaccine, very small amount. This is a small fraction of what we do every day.
Admiral Giroir: (01:47:24)
On the next panel, and we know the goal is to get needles in people’s arms, get them safe, save lives, we’re going to be working with retailers like Walgreens and CVS. And I think it would be interesting to the audience to understand what kind of interactions, if any, you have with them on a daily basis, what you’ve had to build. And I bet Thermo’s supplying something to them as well. So maybe we’ll start with Thermo and then go around. Marc.
Marc Casper: (01:47:51)
Yeah. We prepared our cold storage products to be ready to support the distribution networks and the retailers. So we’ve had close contact with them and we’ll supply whatever they need.
Mr. Smith: (01:48:04)
Yeah. They’re our customers, we know them well, we partner with them for onsite pickup. And they actually act as retail access points for our networks where you can pick up and deliver your packages at Walgreens or CVS. So we know their business well, we’re going there every single day.
Yeah. I think we have 10,000 CVS stores in our database. And we’ll be delivering starting, General Perna, hopefully in the next couple of days. We’re prepared, we’re ready. And we’re excited about that. And on behalf of the half million UPSers in our company, we’re extremely proud to be part of this operation. And we really thank you very much.
Speaker 17: (01:48:41)
And just to end, CVS is our largest customer, actually. And we also work with Walgreens. We deliver pharmaceutical products and supplies to those companies every day. So we have an extensive relationship with them.
Admiral Giroir: (01:48:53)
I can tell you, this discussion, I had great confidence, but it also reinforces that this is what you do, right? It’s like me as a pediatrician looking in a child’s ears. This is what I do every single day. This is what you do. And the scale is larger and the complexity’s higher, but I have great confidence, as the American people should. Let me just ask the last question. And a couple of you said you might want to take this. And if you don’t, that’s fine. Any myths you want to bust?
Mr. Smith: (01:49:22)
Oh man. How much time do you have?
Admiral Giroir: (01:49:26)
We only have, I think, about five minutes left. But myths to bust. Because I think it’s very important because the rumor mills get out there, the Twitter machine is kind of crazy. So let’s bust some myths.
Mr. Smith: (01:49:37)
So let me start with the one that’s probably most in our wheelhouse as an airline. Obviously, there’s others out there. There’s not enough dry ice in the world. There’s not enough gloves. But there’s not enough air cargo capacity out there to handle this. So I’ve seen some studies that say you need 8,000 jumbo jets, some say triple seven, some say 747s. Those are very different units of capacity, by the way. But let’s just say wide body aircraft. At FedEx, we operate 8,000 flights a week, 32,000 flights a month. Of those, half of those are wide body aircraft. So if we dedicated our network to it, we could deliver all the world’s vaccines, based on those studies, which by the way, are very flawed because they use a lot of assumptions that aren’t valid because of all the different vaccines and different packaging dimensions. But let’s assume they are. By those studies, we could deliver all the world’s vaccines using just our network in a couple of weeks. Because you don’t fly an airplane just once. Right? You fly it multiple times.
Mr. Smith: (01:50:38)
So that is a huge myth that’s out there. There is plenty of air cargo capacity in our network, in our competitor’s networks, to handle this. And remember, it’s not all going to hit us on a Tuesday. It’s a function of time. It’s going to come over time. So we’ve got this, relax. It’s FedEx and UPS.
Admiral Giroir: (01:50:56)
I’ve seen that myth being propagated this weekend. So thanks for clarifying that. You have one?
Well, I think the perception that everything travels in a temperature controlled vehicle or aircraft is we have that, of course. We do that every day with many, many products. In this case, these vaccines’ temperature is controlled in the box. The box has been designed to maintain temperature for 10 days. And I didn’t show this before, but that’s a two mil vial right there. And we can put up to 5,000 doses in that box. And so the temperature will be maintained for 10 days, and we will have the dry ice to replenish if necessary. So the myth that we can’t move temperature controlled stuff in temperature controlled vehicles are just not right. This is how we’re doing it.
Admiral Giroir: (01:51:40)
Speaker 17: (01:51:42)
They said it well.
Admiral Giroir: (01:51:43)
Any myths from you? Well, I just want to say I want to thank all of you and all your employees. When they get up in the morning, I hope when you ask them what they’re doing, they’re not loading an aircraft, they’re saving lives. They’re saving thousands of lives. Their contribution is as vital as anybody with a stethoscope or immunizing someone. And I can just say, having worked with all your companies since really day one this pandemic, I want to sincerely thank you on behalf of the American people, our service, and everyone you serve.
Mr. Smith: (01:52:25)
Thank you, Admiral.
Admiral Giroir: (01:52:27)
And I think we’re going to have back to Mr. [Mango 01:52:30].
Mr. Mango: (01:52:33)
Okay. Thank you, Admiral Giroir. Thank you, gentlemen. I think the point about we’re building on a foundation, we’re the beneficiaries of investment in innovation that’s taken place for many decades with the best transport and package delivery companies in the world. I think you got a taste of that. It’s time for a break. I learned a long time ago not to say come back in 15 minutes because everyone has a different definition of 15 minutes. So how about 4:10? We’ll come back at 4:10. Folks, there are restrooms on both sides for men and for ladies. There’s a couple of White House interns that will help you get to the restrooms and back. But please be back in your seat at 4:10.
Mr. Mango: (01:53:18)
Speaker 19: (02:09:51)
(silence). Okay, please take your seats. We’re going to get started. Please take your seats. Is it on?
Speaker 20: (02:10:05)
[inaudible 02:10:05] one second.
Speaker 21: (02:10:07)
Ladies and gentlemen, please take your seats. As the program will begin momentarily.
Speaker 19: (02:10:10)
Okay. Not so bad 4:10 on the dot. So thank you for being punctual. There’s a sequence an intentional sequence that what we’re doing this afternoon, we started with Dr. Slaoui and General Perna talking about the vaccine portfolio and distribution strategies at the highest level. Then we had Dr. Marks talk about how those vaccines will be evaluated and approved. And what you just heard is how those vaccines will be stored and shipped and delivered. So our next panel is really going to be about how the vaccines are going to be administered. And for that, we’re going to turn to Brad Smith. Who’s another Operation Warp Speed board member. And he’s going to lead a panel with Rick Gates from Walgreens and John Roberts from CVS Health and these stores, or I should say the stores of these two pharmacy companies alone will represent tens of thousands of outlets at which Americans will eventually be able to get vaccines.
Speaker 19: (02:11:34)
But part of what we really wanted to focus on today is another vital role that these two companies are going to play. And that is they will deploy mobile vaccination teams into every long-term care and assisted living facility in the country at the direction, as you heard early on of the state and with the permission of the nursing home. And I think it’s somewhere between 80 and 85% of our 15,000 long-term care facilities have already signed up to have either CVS or Walgreens perform this role. It’s an absolute turnkey service. They’ll have everything that’s needed to vaccinate. They’ll come back 21 days later or 28 days later, depending on which vaccine it is and they’ll record all of the appropriate information. So Brad Smith and panelists, why don’t you come on out?
Brad Smith: (02:12:34)
Well, thank you both for… You guys hear me okay? Perfect. Well, thank you guys, both for being here. We’ve had the pleasure of working together in a number of ways over the past eight or nine months, and you guys have been two incredible American companies, everything from in March and April, just keeping your stores open so that people had a place to go and get basic goods to everything you’ve done to ramp up testing. And now here talking about the vaccine that will hopefully over the next several months, bring us to an end of the pandemic. So thank you for everything you guys have done. So this is Rick Gates, senior vice president for pharmacy and healthcare and the lead for the COVID-19 vaccine administration effort at Walgreens and John Roberts, the EVP and chief operating officer at CVS health. So as Paul was mentioning, we’ve talked a lot today about how we’re going to distribute the vaccines to the insights.
Brad Smith: (02:13:27)
And this panel is really to talk about how as General Perna said, we really get shots in arms, and we’re going to specifically talk about two settings and dig in a little bit on both of them. The first is the long-term care settings, specifically nursing homes, assisted living facilities. And then we’re also going to talk about the retail setting and what would it mean for the average American to get a shot? And what does that experience look like for them?
Brad Smith: (02:13:49)
So maybe we’ll start with talking about the long-term care facilities. So earlier this week, the CDC under Dr. Redfield’s leadership made a recommendation for prioritization of who should get the vaccine first. In that first year healthcare workers, but also long-term care residents. And I know that many of the states, as Paul was saying, have contract with you all to reach out to their long-term care facilities and to help administer the vaccine. Maybe you guys could both start by talking a little bit about the investments you’ve made to be prepared for that. And then also just thinking about us who maybe have a family member in one of the nursing home facilities. What will that look like from an actual patient experience family experience? Maybe Rick, we can start with you.
Rick Gates: (02:14:29)
Yeah, sure thing. And I certainly thank you for having me here today. First of all, I am a pharmacist 25 years now. So, I live in breath pharmacy each and every day. And I can tell you that pharmacist, pharmacy and Walgreens is proud to be here as part of this build out really to support Americans as we really look to get past this next challenging phase that we’re in right now. So we’re really proud to be here. Secondly, I was a pharmacist in stores for over eight years that I can tell you pharmacies embedded in the communities that we serve. So not only do we work in the communities, we actually serve in the communities and live in the communities as well. So it’s really important that that’s part of the nature that pharmacy really plays in that place as well, and immunizations are core to what we do.
Rick Gates: (02:15:12)
And so I think, General Perna as you were saying, it’s expertise that’s there. I just want to share everybody that immunizations and vaccinations are something that pharmacists have been doing for well over 10 years. You think back to H1N1 and where we really lean forward as a profession to really start to serve that as well. And I had the pleasure of serving on the planning committee for H1N1 within Walgreens as well. So I think there’s a lot of expertise here to really help. I think, ensure that we get shots in arms, I think is what we’re trying to get as well. And I think the other challenge you have is reaching the vulnerable and the underserved. So I think a lot of work has to be done. And I think we have a lot of work to do to make sure that we get to areas that are more rural, underserved and vulnerable.
Rick Gates: (02:15:52)
And I think you can see that industries has really started to do that. Even with testing that you mentioned before, 70% of our sites are an underserved areas. So I think just from a framework perspective, I think pharmacy is well-placed to really step forward and really help in this process. So to your question, I think that if you look at when we get vaccinations from the states, and I think that’s the first part of it. We are committed within a couple of days of getting into the first laundering care facilities and ensuring that we’re starting to vaccinate Americans in that point in time. And it’s really critical that we have speed of pace to really start the vaccine process. And it still will take upwards of two to three months to get full vaccinations across. And I’ll talk a little bit about how we’re setting up the different clinics as well within long-term care facilities.
Rick Gates: (02:16:37)
Up to this point, we’re well over 30,000 long-term care facilities have chosen Walgreens at this point in time. And whether they’re one block away from us or they’re 50 miles away from us, we will absolutely hit every single long-term care facility that has chosen us, because I think it’s imperative that we are supporting Americans that are asking to be vaccinated as well. And just from an expertise perspective, I also want to just give assurance is that off-site clinics are core to what we do. Every year we do off-site clinics for flu and pneumonia and others. And over the last five years alone, Walgreens has done about 150,000 offsite clinics to really support the communities that we’re in. So when you talk about the expertise and the comfort, if you will, this is really core to what we do. I have a couple of things here, and it really goes back to the importance of working in this great ecosystem.
Rick Gates: (02:17:27)
I think that Operation Warp Speed is kind of set up, but working with CDC, HHS, the states, even the pharma company has to really start to build out an end to end solution that’s going to be comfortable for patients. And obviously something that we can ensure that our practitioners and pharmacists can support in a very efficient and effective way as well. So I’m not quite as cool as all the last ones I had up there, but I do have a couple of things here. We have worked hard to build out an end to end process, really for the consumer, which is going to be critical for how they look at really working with that. So from signing up for vaccine to administration to follow up communication, as well as how we’re going to set up a follow up the second dose, right? The booster dose, if you will, we have to ensure that Americans get both doses.
Rick Gates: (02:18:12)
And I think that sits not only on the states, the health departments, but obviously on pharmacy as well to ensure consumers know when to schedule it as well as that we’re going to follow up and ensure they actually get it as well and get the proper information out there. So a lot of work has been done in investment here to ensure that it’s a seamless experience for consumers as well, both in long-term care facilities, as well as for the broader general public as well. But equally as important, you talked about distribution a little bit earlier. We have worked as well. I didn’t bring mine with me today, but we have been working on hub locations for ultra cold storage. So this is the most specifically for the Pfizer vaccine. It will require us have about 800 to a thousand hub locations that we will actually put the Pfizer vaccine to ensure safety, safety of storage, and then ultimately transport out into our locations as well.
Rick Gates: (02:19:03)
So we are deploying this as well as dry ice as a core part of what we’re doing. And then kind of the last mile here. It’s not as cool, but it is something that once the doses are thawed, we have a safe and efficient way to get the last mile out to long-term care facilities ensure that there’s safety for our team members, safety for obviously the public and we have appropriate storage for the vaccines as well. So a lot of work being done on the logistics of how we’re going to get it there as well, important that we kind of shared that with you. When it comes to long-term care facilities, that we are actually working in coordination with them as well as a state. And what that looks like are a couple of things. Long-term care facilities are being scheduled for two to three clinics right now.
Rick Gates: (02:19:48)
So we want to make sure that we have them booked. We have the timing set. We know what vaccine is going to be there. And we know when the secondary shots are going to be received so that we can ensure that there’s going to be the completion of that series as well. It’s critical for the vaccine effectiveness. So we’re going to do that as well. Second thing is we’ve got to work with long-term care facilities for appropriate space. It’s got to be clean and organized, and enough space for social distancing has got to be safe and clean, obviously the way that we need to, but we have to ensure safety for the team members for obviously the general public, as well as the employees of the long-term care facilities as well. So a lot of work is being set up to really support the collaboration, if you will, with those long- term care facilities.
Rick Gates: (02:20:31)
I think just to sum it up, I’d say that COVID vaccine itself does present some challenges, different than what we’ve seen before, but it’s really not something we can’t do. So we have dealt with frozen vaccines before we have dealt, obviously with the offsite vaccines before all these things, we just have to actually say, “How are we going to support the nuances to it?” So it’s a cold storage. It’s going to be obviously excessive offsites, all stuff that we can do and will do. And I’ll just leave you with this from a pharmacy perspective. And I’ll still, I think the line that the General Perna said, this is what we do. Pharmacy does this each and every day, we do over 15 to 20 million flu vaccines every day or every year I should say. And you don’t have fanfare about that. So just trust that we have the infrastructure and we are here and we will support this process going forward.
Brad Smith: (02:21:21)
Thanks. And John, I know you said you’ve had tens of thousands of long-term care facilities reach out to you as well. Can you talk a little bit about your guys’ preparation?
John Roberts: (02:21:27)
Yeah, sure. And I’ll try not to be repetitive to what Rick said, but yeah. Let me just start by saying how happy we are to be working with all the partners that you’re seeing at the summit today to put an end to this pandemic. It’s really important that we get this country back to some sense of normalcy. And I also just want to recognize the 240 CVS Health employees that are very, very proud to be part of this effort. Maybe just start by saying CVS has a lot of experience in the long-term care space. So we’re actually the largest pharmacy services provider to long-term care through our Omnicare pharmacy.
John Roberts: (02:22:05)
This year alone, we’ve conducted 8,000 flu clinics at long-term care facilities, and we’re actually supporting 1400 long-term care facilities with regular COVID testing. So we’ve got a lot of experience, highly confident. We know this space very well. And you heard 15,000 long-term care facilities. That’s really nursing homes. So the sickest of the sick of our seniors, the ones that need the most support, but there’s a bunch of other senior facilities like assisted living facilities, group homes. And so the CDC did a great job of serving all these facilities and we had 44,000 facilities that selected CVS to give the vaccine. And that’ll be based on the state’s priorities. And we’ll be putting 9,000 pharmacists, technicians and nurses on the road that will actually go the facilities to administer the vaccines. And we’re ready to get going. So as soon as the vaccine, General Perna, we’re ready to get going.
John Roberts: (02:23:10)
And depending upon which vaccine gets administered, we’ll be able to complete that cycle of two doses in six to eight weeks. Pfizer is three weeks between dose one and two, and Moderna is four weeks. So depending upon which vaccine that’ll determine the timeline. And we’re going to be leveraging our existing technology platforms. So we do this today to coordinate, track and report to both states and the federal government about all the vaccine activity that takes place. And then we have the capability to safely transport the vaccines from where we receive them. And you heard that on the last panel to these facilities, maintain them at the proper temperature control per the manufacturer’s requirements. So CVS is ready and we’re ready to take care of this most vulnerable part of our population.
Brad Smith: (02:24:06)
Well, thanks for all the preparation you guys have done with the long-term care home. So let’s think out to maybe February or March, or maybe even April when the vaccine becomes available to the majority of Americans across the country. Many of them are used to going into your stores today. I think you’ve both committed to having the vast majority of your stores be prepared to vaccinate folks. Maybe John, we could start with you and you could talk through a little bit that preparations that you’re undertaking, but also more than anything, what would the experience be for the average American when they sign up and come into the store?
John Roberts: (02:24:34)
Well, listen, it’s something that I can’t think is more important for this country. And we’ve got a lot of experience, Rick, like you do at Walgreens giving vaccinations and for this flu season alone is an example. We’ve given 16 million flu shots already this year, which is double what we did last year. So, people listen to the CDC guidance to get their flu shot. And we think providing access to the COVID vaccine to where people live will be very important to ensuring everybody who wants the vaccine can get it. And so that’s why we think community pharmacy is such a great place for consumers to get the vaccine. So in our 10,000 stores and Walgreens has something similar. We’re within 10 miles of 85% of the population. So we’re in the communities, it’ll be easy for people to get to our stores.
John Roberts: (02:25:31)
And 60% of our stores are in areas that are more vulnerable to COVID as well. And yeah, we’re very well prepared to vaccinate the general public. We have it establish infrastructure to do this. We are trusted in the community across the country. Pharmacists are probably the most trusted person in their community. We’ve got a lot of experience giving vaccinations, not only flu, but lots of other vaccines. And finally, we have experience and are committed to addressing the health inequities with outreach, access, support, and education. I think that’s going to be very, very critical. So let me talk a little bit about what we’re already doing in COVID. I think we’re doing a lot already, so CVS is currently doing 70% of all the COVID testing in retail sites across the country. We have 4,700 stores where people can go and get a COVID test today.
John Roberts: (02:26:27)
We’ve also worked with states and we have 14 community sites where we’re doing COVID testing in underserved communities, and we’ve administered 8 million COVID tests so far. I think you heard the number from President Trump that there’s been 200 million tests given we’d done 8 million of those. And we will have the capacity at retail to administer 25 million COVID vaccines each and every month across our almost 10,000 stores. And we have 50,000 trained immunizers at CVS, and they’re ready to go. So I think this whole notion of educating people on the safety and efficacy of this vaccine, we believe is going to be critical. So we are building and have built plans to do this. So we have four and a half million people that shop our stores each and every day. So we’ll have material, educational material that they can pick up in their stores, or we can distribute through the drive-thru.
John Roberts: (02:27:23)
We’re going to leverage our trusted healthcare colleagues to educate people in their community, in the thousands communities across this country, where they live and work. And we’ll also be leveraging a lot of our existing communication channels. So think of our circulars, our .com site, cvs.com, our in store radio, or even our IVR when people come. So we think education is going to be critical. And as we think about distributing the vaccine, we’re going to build off our experience that we have with the annual flu vaccine. So we will distribute the vaccines allocated to us in the order of priority. That’s determined by the individual states. And we know the states are going to be using the CDC guidelines as their guide, as they decide on their priorities. We have the ability to distribute both Pfizer and Moderna at retail. So think of Pfizer as being the ultra frozen and Moderna is being frozen.
John Roberts: (02:28:22)
And so let me maybe just start with Moderna. So all of our stores have freezers, Moderna just needs to be stored at the regular freezer temperature. Those freezers all have temperature monitors that we can monitor to make sure that the vaccines are kept at the appropriate temperature. And so stores will be allocated vaccines based on appointments that are made. And those vaccines will be shipped directly to the stores and put into the freezers. For Pfizer we have to do something a little bit different. So we’ve identified 1100 depot stores across the country. They’ll receive the Pfizer shipper that you saw earlier. You can actually keep that vaccine in that shipper for up to 15 days by replenishing the dry ice. And then it can be kept at regular refrigerated temperature for another five days. So think of it as these 1100 depots will get the Pfizer vaccine and then they’ll deliver it to nine other local stores in a way that ensures that it’s correct at the right temperature and supports the vaccinations that they have scheduled. We’ve also created a robust consumer experience. So Brad, finally getting to your question to ensure it’s easy to schedule a vaccination. So it’s going to be very easy. A consumer will go onto our website, they’ll pick a store that’s convenient to them. They’ll pick a date that works in their schedule, and then they’ll pick a time. And so these vaccinations will be done by appointment. Now, when they make that first appointment, they’re also going to make their second appointment because getting the second dose, we feel is critical and it needs to be done within a certain timeframe from when they get that first dose. So think of it as is what you would do when you buy a round trip airplane ticket. So once that appointment is made, reminders will be sent to the customer ahead of their scheduled appointments.
John Roberts: (02:30:20)
The first and the second, it’ll either be emails or texts. In the case where somebody misses their appointment, we’ll actually make a live call to them to try to get them back in, to get that second dose. Patients will arrive at their CVS. And it’ll be a similar experience to going into your pharmacy to get a flu shot. They’ll come in at their scheduled time, they’ll meet with the pharmacist or technician. They’ll get their flu shot. They’ll get a record card with the vaccination that they got. We’ll also email them that record as well. Now, we also think that there may be patients that want to only get their second dose at CVS. So maybe they’ve gotten their first dose somewhere else. And for some reason, they can’t get back to wherever they received that first dose.
John Roberts: (02:31:12)
So what do we do? We’ll actually have them go to the website, we’ll ask them which vaccine they received on their first dose. And only those stores that have that same vaccine will show up as options for them to choose. Now, we also know that there may be customers that don’t remember what their first dose was. And so what we’ll do in that case is we’ll either call the provider that gave them that first dose, or we’ll also have the ability to query state records and find out what that a vaccine is.
John Roberts: (02:31:46)
And then the last thing I would say is there’s no cost to the consumer. So everyone that wants a vaccine should be able to get it. Then we’re ready to go with CVS. So we think we’ve made a very easy, seamless experience. There’s not going to be lines because everyone will be by appointment. There’s a lot of follow-up to ensure they get the second dose up to and including a phone call if they miss that appointment and we’ll be able to do 25 million vaccines a month. So we’re pretty excited about being part of the solution here, Brad.
Brad Smith: (02:32:19)
That’s really helpful. And I think it’s great to hear about the creativity you guys have had around the Pfizer vaccine. I know one of our concerns was will you be able to deploy the Pfizer vaccine in a retail setting? And I think when you see the innovation around the box and the storage combined with the innovation you’re having around one store serving and supporting nine others, that’s really helpful to see. Rick, what about on your side?
Rick Gates: (02:32:43)
Again, I don’t want to repeat a lot of what you did, but I think what John really emphasizes is the fact that pharmacy is really well placed, I think, to help with vaccinating America in the general population. So I think it’s really exciting when you hear about, I think all of the different things that whether it’s CVS or Walgreens or broadly across pharmacy is going to be doing to really ensure that great experience, a comfort level for consumers, as well as an understanding of the safety profiles. I do want to emphasize the fact that making sure that Americans understand the safety profile and while it’s important to get the vaccine is going to be a key part of what pharmacy must do when it comes to the general population. So there’s a lot of education. We should be doing a lot of materials working with the CDC, with the manufacturers and others that we need to get out there and educate America.
Rick Gates: (02:33:27)
So I think that’s a really important part of what we’re doing as we build out the infrastructure that we can to really support the throughput that may be necessary for all of America. The only other thing I’d really emphasize here is that if you look at it, we’ve got to continue to improve the experience and make sure people feel comfortable with it. Because even with the great numbers that we’ve had with the flu vaccine over the last couple of years, even between the companies like ours, there’s a ton of Americans that aren’t getting vaccines that should be getting vaccines. And so it’s on us, really to make sure that we make a safe environment. They understand that cleanliness protocols, that we have private health rooms, that there are areas that are going to be a safe, and it is a professional. That’s doing this for them.
Rick Gates: (02:34:06)
And helping them make sure that they get the subsequent dose as well. So there’s a lot of education I think, is going to be part of what we have to do in a general population. I think that’s core to what pharmacies can absolutely support. And then all the ancillaries making it easy, making it digital, all those pieces, I think will just make it easier and simpler for consumers that they will actually want to navigate the pharmacy to really help solve that. And our help getting to a primary care provider or whoever’s going to be to ensure they get vaccinated as well.
Brad Smith: (02:34:34)
That’s really helpful. I know John, you already hit on this a little bit and Rick, you mentioned it too, but I just think it’s so important. Talk a little bit more about these are the first two, vaccines are two dose vaccines, and obviously it’s really important that folks who get the first dose get the second dose from the same company. I know John, you already spoke to this a little bit, but Rick, maybe add a little bit more color around that.
Rick Gates: (02:34:51)
Yeah. And getting to the second dose is obviously it’s not going to work, you won’t have the effect of this. You won’t have the immunity that’s necessary based off of just getting one dose. So getting the second dose is absolutely critical.
Rick Gates: (02:35:02)
Just getting one dose. So getting the second dose is absolutely critical. So if you think about it, dose series completions are not new things that pharmacy have not done before. We have shingles vaccinations that require a subsequent dose. We have some pneumonia-based vaccinations where you have to get them yearly with a different type of dose. We have already processes in place to ensure that we get the second dose. And so I think that that goes back to there’s expertise here. This is what we do every day. And vaccinations and getting second doses is core to what we do.
Rick Gates: (02:35:31)
We just have to continue to make it easier. So there’s going to be a lot of work being done to make sure that we’re communicating to the consumer the way that they want us to communicate to them. Is it texting? Is it a phone call? Do we want to send them a letter? It doesn’t matter. We just need to make sure that they understand when their next dose is, it’s automatically scheduled, and then at that point in time, follow up calls or whatever it’s going to take or necessary to get there.
Rick Gates: (02:35:53)
We are working in tandem, and I know John said it as well, with state registries and obviously with the federal registry I know that General Perna talked about, we’ve got to make sure that the data sharing is there so that we know who’s gotten the vaccine, what vaccine they’ve received, and we can ensure that they get the second dose. And I think all of this is going to work together to help us ensure that we get to that point as well.
Speaker 22: (02:36:14)
And Brad, the only thing I would add is, as part of registering on our digital site for the first dose, we’ll get their cell phone numbers. I mean, just about everybody has a cell phone. And we find that texting is very effective at getting people either in to refill their medication. We think it’s going to be very effective at getting people in for their second dose. And so we’re really leveraging our technology communication platform to ensure people come in and get that second dose. I think the first dose helps, but our clinical people say that you’re not going to be totally protected unless you get that second dose.
Speaker 23: (02:36:49)
I just want to conclude by saying again thank you guys for everything that you’re doing. When the doses arrive, you guys will become the front lines, and you guys are both incredibly well-prepared, and the country and all of us are very grateful. So thank you.
Speaker 22: (02:37:00)
Okay. Our last panel before the vice president sums things up. Let’s thank these gentlemen though from CVS and Walgreens. As we said, two other incredibly trusted brands that will play such a key role in vaccinating our fellow citizens. So we’re just so privileged to have them as part of this.
So our final panel of the afternoon, and Secretary Azar is going to actually moderate it. And I think we said a little bit earlier, he’s actually the architect of Operation Warp Speed. And you heard Dr. Slaoui talk about some of the key success factors from a scientific standpoint in the technology platforms. But if you look at Operation Warp Speed, it’s also an enterprise, if you think about that. It’s a business enterprise. So we were sitting in the secretary’s office one day in March and we learned of a contract. Dr. Kadelac and others were beginning to engage in contracts to get vaccine development going. And after we learned about that contract, he asked a question, well, when are they going to start phase one trials? And having come from the pharmaceutical industry, he knew that was kind of a critical start to the whole development of a drug or a biologic in this case.
And the answer was September. And that was completely unsatisfactory to the secretary at the time. And he said, we just can’t have business as usual at this point. So we understood three aspects that had to change right away. One, we needed different talent. He picked up the phone, some of his industry contacts, I was in his office, and he said, who’s the best vaccine developer in the world? We got one answer, Moncef Slaoui. Who’s the best manufacturing executive in the world? Carlo de Notaristefani. Both of them are core members of the team. Next day, picks up the phone, calls Secretary Esper. I I need a logistics expert. That’s how we got General Perna. So it was about talent, just getting the team together that would actually do it.
Second, he understood, you heard Moncef talk about manufacturing at risk. Having come from the pharmaceutical industry, he knew there weren’t going to be many pharmaceutical companies that were going to manufacture a hundred million doses before they understood whether they going to get an EUA or a licensure from the FDA. So that was a big part of the design.
And then lastly, we haven’t talked about it today, but governance. How do we cut through the bureaucracy? How did Operation Warp Speed cut through the bureaucracy? It was very simple. A direct report from the board of Operation Warp Speed to the President of the United States as the sponsor, the president as the sponsor of this overall effort. So when we say the architect of Operation Warp Speed, those were three key success factors. And that’s why we are where we are today.
We talked a little bit earlier about three partnerships. We’re going to now engage in that last one, which is federal state. And this is consistent with the principles we’ve used all along, federally supported, state managed, locally executed. And I looked at the attendee list before we arrived today, and pleased to see that there are several county commissioners and actually mayors in the audience. And they’re the ones who are actually going to have to, at the end of the day, execute. So thank you for making your way here to DC.
All 64 States and jurisdictions actually have submitted detailed vaccination plans to the CDC. Those plans were evaluated, and amongst the best four that were evaluated, were those from Louisiana, Texas, Florida, and Tennessee. And we’re fortunate to have the governors from those states with us this afternoon. Governor John Bel Edwards from Louisiana, Governor Greg Abbott from Texas, governor Ron DeSantis from Florida, and Governor Bill Lee from Tennessee. So secretary Azar and the governors, come on out.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:42:10)
Well, Paul, thank you very much for that introduction of the governors here and for some of that history on how Operation Warp Speed got going. If you’re a leader in business, if you’re a CEO of a cabinet department, you know it’s all about the people. People is policy. And you’ve gotten to see today some of the incredible people who have driven this to make this work and get these … I think, Paul, you had a really nice quote from Churchill. It’s the people who allowed us to unlearn what was impossible. And folks like Dr. Moncef Slaoui leading on the development. General Gus Perna. When I talked to secretary Esper and the chairman of the joint chiefs, they immediately said, “Oh, we’ve got the guy for you.” Had an Army material command and said, “Gus is the guy for you. Got to be there.”
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:43:06)
And I called around and I said I need manufacturing. And Carlo de Notaristefani, a real talent we don’t mention as much who led global manufacturing for all of Bristol Myers Squibb, a biologic manufacturing company branded around the world, but also for Teva, one of the world’s great generic companies able to stand up 200 assembly lines and manufacturing processes per year. So that kind of talent, they dropped everything. These folks dropped everything that they were doing. General Perna moved, gave up his command, moved. These others volunteered. They gave up their retirements, they stopped their retirements. They came and they served the country just in the greatest spirit of what people did in World War II, what people did with the Manhattan Project, what people did with the Apollo Project. And I just want to express my public appreciation to the people who really are making this happen.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:44:03)
And I want to also express my appreciation to folks on the stage with me here. Under the Vice President’s leadership, we have had an intimate and close connection to America’s governors. Almost every single week we have had an often multi-hour video conference with our nation’s governors, our territorial governors. And it’s really been one of the great collaborations I’ve ever seen. We are over 40 at this point. I know of the gatherings that we have already had this year. And the four governors on the stage here, I don’t think there’s been a weekly session that the Vice President hasn’t called on each of you to share your learnings, your understanding, and your expertise with your fellow governors. And there’s a reason for that.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:44:49)
As we talk, as Paul said, about the three key partnerships that are part of Operation Warp Speed, one of them is the federal state partnership. And just on vaccine distribution planning, these four governors put together some of the best vaccine distribution plans, the real models for the rest of the country. And that’s why we asked Governor Edwards, Governor DeSantis, Governor Abbott, Governor Lee to be here with us. But I just want to say beyond vaccine planning, just throughout this entire pandemic, they’ve been incredible partners to work with on a bipartisan basis. It’s been really an honor to work with each of you. So thank you for that.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:45:28)
Want to kick things off, as I mentioned, there’s a reason we asked you, in addition to your general expertise and leadership. But it was that the CDC looked at your plans and said your plans really are exceptional. Let me ask first Governor Abbott. Do you mind sharing with us any insights about the process you used to come up with your plan. And I’ll turn to the other governors real quick just to get any insight there.
Greg Abbott: (02:45:53)
Sure. Well first, thanks to you, and thanks to everybody in the Trump administration for this Operation Warp Speed. It really is a feat of medical advancement. But as you know, we’ve been working collaboratively with you, with your team and with the White House coronavirus team to get us prepared. So we began preparing for the delivery of these vaccines going all the way back to the spring. And we have accelerated that over the past month or two. And over the past month, we have already signed up more than 7,200 providers in the state of Texas that are awaiting for these vaccines as we speak right now, ready to make sure that we do put needles in arms within 24 to 48 hours, as soon as we get those vaccines. The providers that are signed up include hospitals and private healthcare providers, nursing homes, local pharmacies, and these large pharmacy chains.
Greg Abbott: (02:46:51)
Importantly, working with your entire team, learning to strategy and information that we need, we were able to set up a large number of these cold change storage operations so that we would make sure that we would be able to handle the Pfizer vaccine as well as the Moderna vaccine adequately.
Greg Abbott: (02:47:11)
Also, to be ready for this, we understand when we’re doing something this large, especially in a state the size of Texas, we needed to make sure that we were able to work out the kinks. And to do that, we actually ran several mock distributions in advanced to make sure that when it does arrive, we will have eliminated any of the potential missteps.
Greg Abbott: (02:47:32)
And then, very important, we have established ways that we are going to remain in communication with the people who receive the first vaccine. Now, this includes when they do first receive their vaccine, they will be receiving a reminder card at that time letting them know when they are to return, where they are to return, and the process about returning for the second vaccine. But we know that may not be enough. And so on top of that, we will be following up with text messages, with phone calls, with email reminders and with a statewide communication plan to make sure there is an inescapable way for people to make sure that they’re going to be learning about exactly what they need to do to make sure that they get that second dose to make sure that they are fully vaccinated.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:48:22)
Governor, one quick aside, you mentioned the vaccine reminder cards, and this is coming up a lot lately. We’ve talked about myths earlier today. That’s not a national vaccine card, right? That’s like when you go to the dentist and you get a reminder card saying come back in six months and here’s your appointment, right?
Greg Abbott: (02:48:40)
Well, that’s true. I’m going to take it a step further because of the unique attributes of Texas. There is no national vaccine card, and we’re not creating a national database or anything like that. But as Texans know, in the state of Texas, people cannot be required to take a vaccine. Most people want to, and there’s going to be such a high demand for it that all of the supply will be used up. But we just want to make sure my fellow Texans know that we know that you are not going to be forced to take a vaccine against your will.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:49:15)
Great, thanks governor. Governor Edwards, do you mind telling us a little bit about how Louisiana and you came up with your game plan?
John Bel Edwards: (02:49:21)
Yes, sir. We got started in the spring as well. And I’ll tell you that by June, we had created a vaccination action collaborative. And we have 73 members, 36 different organizations, public and private, higher education involved. And we created four work groups. They’ve been meeting every week since then. And every one of those work groups has a health equity interest that has been attached to it. The National Guard has been attached to it. And they’ve been working nonstop because we want to make sure that we have a way to do this that is equitable, but also we want to be organized in the way that we receive and distribute and actually administer these vaccines.
John Bel Edwards: (02:50:02)
And so we’ve involved LSU. They have the National Center for Biomedical Research and Training. They run two tabletop exercises for us. Each one has been constructive because we realized we had some gaps that we needed to fill. We similarly had some distribution exercises to make sure that the hospitals, for example, would know what to expect. And hopefully in the next number of days, they’re going to actually be going through that. We’ve got a memorandum of agreement. The public private partnerships are done at the state level too. So we have an exceptional pharmaceutical wholesaler in Louisiana, the Shreveport area. We have a memorandum of agreement with them, and we’ve identified in advance all of these issues that we expect to have. And just like we’ve heard from Walgreens and CVS and UPS and FedEx and McKesson, states, we’ve been in the business of doing this for a long time too. So it’s not anything new. It’s just at a scale that we don’t typically have to do it at.
John Bel Edwards: (02:51:06)
And so we have some really good professionals in the office of public health in Louisiana working across the state with all these different groups. And we want to promote the confidence of the people of Louisiana that this is going to be a safe and effective vaccination that they’re going to want to have. And so you’ve got to have a good plan in order to, I think, foster that confidence.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:51:32)
Thank you, governor. Governor DeSantis?
Ron DeSantis: (02:51:35)
Yeah, sure. Well, first of all, I would always tell my folks, we hope we get the vaccine, but you should definitely not count on it because it’s ambitious. It hasn’t happened before. So the fact that it is, that’s a great testament to Operation Warp Speed and all the work that so many people have done. As soon as the Pfizer news came out, I flew up and met with you on Warp Speed, and I told my folks, we had already been planning for it, but I was like, we got a better sense of the timeline. Let’s make sure that we’re leading from the front. We really wanted to embrace this. I know other governors have said this may not be good. We view it as a good thing. Not forced for anybody, but offered to all.
Ron DeSantis: (02:52:10)
And we basically did our vaccine plan to flow out of our normal mitigation plan, in terms of we focused on protecting vulnerable populations, whether it’s a nursing homes or the broader senior population. We focused on supporting our health care system. And then we focused on making sure kids were in school, people were able to earn a living. And if you look at what we can do with nursing homes, we could have every resident of nursing home and long-term care facility vaccinated in the month of December. I mean, that’s within our grasp right now in the United States. In the state of Florida, we have 4,000 facilities. We’re working with CVS, Walgreens to be able do that.
Ron DeSantis: (02:52:49)
It’s important for saving lives because they’re the most vulnerable, but many of them, most of them who get it do survive. And then many obviously have not been infected. But it has such a devastating effect to have mitigations going on in these. And look, we allow visitors. But you have to take all these precautions. You just can’t live normally. And it’s taking a huge toll on these folks. And so we see loneliness, despair, even with having some visitation. So we need to get them back to normal, and getting them back to normal is going to mean so much to those residents and their families. And I’m thrilled that we’re really on the doorstep there.
Ron DeSantis: (02:53:27)
And then in terms of the healthcare system, look, the models that said that we’re not going to have beds, tens of millions of hospitalizations, obviously those were very, very wrong. But what we found particularly over the summer when we had a higher census, was it wasn’t that, we had plenty of beds, but this is very labor intensive for healthcare staff with the isolation procedures, everything they’ve got to do. Obviously they’re testing everyone that comes in, so someone breaks their legs, they may be asymptomatic, but you still got to do the procedures. And then an exposure could take out a half a dozen nurses at one time.
Ron DeSantis: (02:54:01)
Well, to be able to get it through, offer it to our healthcare systems. They’re tip of the sphere, high contact workers, to be able to have them, well, they’re going to be in a situation where they’re going to be able to handle a patient load going forward.
Ron DeSantis: (02:54:14)
And so I think in terms of the most at risk population, we’ll be able to target first. And then simultaneously, kind of the high contact, which would have the most impact on our health care system. And then we think based on the numbers at the end of December, we can start getting it onto the broader senior population. And then January really focused on vaccinating as many elderly people as we can. And so we’re really excited about it. We really leaned into it. And then we thank everyone for doing it. This is a really, really significant achievement for our country.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:54:46)
Just imagine that. Every senior in a nursing home in Florida within the next several weeks getting protection. That is something. Wow. Well, Governor Lee, the Vice President and Dr. Redfield and I came down to visit you and our great partners FedEx just last week. Do you mind telling us a bit about the great process you all used?
Bill Lee: (02:55:04)
We are proud of FedEx and the role that they’re playing. Proud of Vanderbilt as well, the role that they’re playing nationally in this process. So Tennessee is, we’re excited to be on the forefront here. I want to commend your team, too, many of them that we have been on phone calls. You talked about the multiple phone calls we had. One of the benefits of that is the interaction that we’ve had with our other governors. So many of the things that you’re hearing right now, we’re all doing in different ways. And part of the reason is because we’ve been talking about the things we’re going to do because of the coordinated effort of the coronavirus task force. It’s been a part of the reason why I think the approach from this administration has been so effective. It’s allowed us to get best practices.
Bill Lee: (02:55:55)
So Tennessee started several years ago with pandemic immunization preparedness by pulling up something we call Fight Flu TN. And we do once a year a broad immunization day across the state where we vaccinate thousands of people in every one of our 95 counties. And that process gave us a blueprint for how to do what it is that we’re going to be doing in the next few weeks.
Bill Lee: (02:56:25)
Because our public health officials, because of the fight flu TN process, our public health officials had practice in the logistics of this and the communications of how it is that we get it out to folks. So we’ve taken that blueprint, recognizing that this is much bigger, pulled together stakeholders, groups that really advocate for Tennesseeans, because we want to make sure this gets distributed equitably. In order to do that, we brought in advocates for those with disabilities, AARP our pharmacy companies, 30 different organizations to help us develop a priority population strategy that will include the most vulnerable in nursing homes, our healthcare providers and staff for all the obvious reasons of making sure we have capacity in our healthcare system and protect the most vulnerable.
Bill Lee: (02:57:27)
And a lot of that strategy has come through the infrastructure that Tennessee built in the very beginning to address this with a commitment to testing, free testing for every person in Tennessee, regardless of symptoms, from the very beginning, a commitment to partnerships with our healthcare providers, and then a commitment to developing a real strategy for this vaccine implementation.
Bill Lee: (02:57:52)
So for a few years, we’ve been preparing for it. We have escalated that preparation this year. Really, again, federally, you all have done an unimaginable job of bringing this to the states. Now, it’s our turn to do what needs to be done to get it out to, in our case, the millions of Tennesseeans that we’ll have the choice to take this. We want to communicate it in a way that they are fully informed so they can make a choice and that they understand the safety and the efficacy and the certainty with which we think this has been delivered.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:58:37)
Great. Thank you, governor. So next one, let’s do rapid fire around here. Want to ask each of you because it’s a question I get on TV all the time, is on speed. Just how quickly do you think you can get 100,000 people vaccinated in your state. Governor Lee, you want to kick us off?
Bill Lee: (02:58:51)
The director of our health department, Dr. Lisa Piercey, is here. She probably could answer that, but I’m going to say Dr. Piercey that we can do it in 24 to 48 hours.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:59:00)
Wow. Governor Abbott?
Greg Abbott: (02:59:02)
Same thing. We’re ready to go. All we need are the tests and the vaccines. And once we get them, they should be done within 24 to 48 hours.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:59:12)
Ron DeSantis: (02:59:14)
Yeah, we hope so. I mean, I would need to ask for sure. But I think the hospitals, it was great because I talked to them and they were like, look, this is easier than doing the diagnostic tests. We do this all the time. We do shots. So I think they’re going to be able to get their workforce done very quickly.
Ron DeSantis: (02:59:29)
And what we did was we picked a certain number of hospitals that are huge, but we said, look, we want all the other systems. And so they’re like, oh, absolutely. So they’re all working together. And I think they’re going to be able to deliver it pretty expeditiously because they know. And the first shot, it has protection from what we’re hearing. That’s a huge deal. And that’s really great.
Secretary Alex Azar: (02:59:47)
John Bel Edwards: (02:59:48)
Assuming that we’re on track with the emergency use authorization and so forth, we expect 39,000 doses of Pfizer the first week, about 40,000 the second week. So let me just tell you, within 48 hours of getting that second allocation, we will have administered those vaccinations with shots in the arm with medical personnel. Not just doctors, nurses, and therapists. For sure them. But also people who clean the rooms, who deliver the food, anybody who directly or indirectly can be exposed to the virus and contract the disease in those hospitals settings, including our EMS workers, by the way. So we’re going to get it done within 48 hours.
Secretary Alex Azar: (03:00:26)
And that last point Governor Edwards mentioned, I’d want to distress that. A lot of times we use a term because we’re in the healthcare world, we use a shorthand of healthcare providers. What we really mean are healthcare workers. And so as important as doctors and nurses, it’s the janitors, it’s the orderlies, it’s the aides, everybody who are providing that kind of help that make the system in the hospital, the nursing home, what have you, work and are just as important, if not more often, than everybody else to make sure they get protection also.
John Bel Edwards: (03:00:59)
Yes, sir. Exactly.
Secretary Alex Azar: (03:01:02)
Yep. Along those lines, I wanted to raise the question of, we have of course advice out of the CDC and the advisory committee on immunization practices, but you all as governors have the freedom to decide how you’d like to prioritize. One of the key areas that I think we all worry about are the individuals who are underserved in our healthcare system, who may not have a lot of connection to it, may not have the frequency of interaction of others. As you’ve been thinking about your vaccine distribution plans, maybe Governor Edwards if you might kick us off here, how are you thinking about reaching the more underserved in our community, who in many instances have born a very disproportionate burden of severe consequence from this pandemic?
John Bel Edwards: (03:01:47)
Yeah. Well, first of all, that’s a great question. And we realized in April, by the way, that although African-Americans are about 32% of our state’s population, at that time 70% of COVID deaths were among African-Americans. So I created a health equity task force that then folded on top of the vaccination action collaborative that I talked about. But we have a headstart on these things because like Governor Lee was talking about, every year, we do mass vaccination exercises around the flu vaccine. And we specifically target those underserved areas to try to promote flu vaccinations. This year, we’ve been especially successful, 42% more than last year. And of course, part of that has to do with our outreach around COVID too. We don’t want flu patients any more than we want COVID patients in the hospital right now. And so that has been successful. So we’ve, we’ve been learning lessons about how to get into these communities.
John Bel Edwards: (03:02:49)
But in addition to that, as part of our overall program, we have contracted with strike teams to go into specific zip codes. Just like we targeted certain areas that we knew needed to be tested, we’re targeting certain areas that we know we’re going to have to go in there with strike teams to administer these vaccinations. And so we have some that are commercial, but we also have stood up the National Guard. And by the way, I want to thank the administration for the extension of the title 32 on the National Guard, because they’re doing thousands of tests everyday in Louisiana, but they’re also a big part of our vaccination program with distribution and the strike teams that we’re talking about.
John Bel Edwards: (03:03:28)
So with all of that, and I think we’re going to get to this later, it’s the underserved communities that we really need to do the most outreach to and communication with to build up the confidence in the safety and efficacy of the vaccines as well. And so that’s a big part of reaching the underserved, because we don’t just want the vaccine. We want the vaccination. And so that’s what we’re working on.
Secretary Alex Azar: (03:03:51)
Ron DeSantis: (03:03:53)
Yeah. I think communication is important. And I know a lot of our hospitals are already planning on doing a lot of very robust outreach. But this was the first vaccine that’s really been politicized, unfortunately. I mean, you guys remember the campaign. And that’s going to be something that people are going to have to deal with. And we obviously want to deal with it. I think the fact that we’re not threatening to mandate it helps because we say, look, we think it’s important, but obviously you make the decision.
Ron DeSantis: (03:04:19)
And then I also think just some of the bad messaging that’s come out over the course of this, quite frankly, is problematic. I mean, when people are doing some of these shutdowns that are totally unscientific about this type of activity or being on a playground or schools can’t be open, then I think people look at that. So I hope we can kind of get on the same page here, take the politics out of it, be very consistent, be evidence-based on it, and I think people will respond positively.
Secretary Alex Azar: (03:04:47)
Greg Abbott: (03:04:48)
Sure. So part of the job is to first, identify the location of the underserved communities. And in a state as large and diverse as the state of Texas, that’s a daunting task because some of the underserved community would be in our large urban areas, some of it would be in the sparsely populated rural areas. Some of our rural areas, out of our 254 counties, there are some that don’t have access to any medical healthcare whatsoever. And so we have to first identify them, then go to them.
Greg Abbott: (03:05:20)
And the way that we are going to them is we have put together a bunch of mobile medical units that will be taking the vaccines to the people where they are in underserved communities to make sure that they will have access to these vaccines also. And we’ll be making clear exactly one thing that Governor Lee pointed out, and that is the importance that they know that these vaccines are free. It’s not going to come with any money out of your pocket, thanks in large part, thanks in total part to Operation Warp Speed and what y’all have done here. So thank you for doing that.
Secretary Alex Azar: (03:05:50)
Thank you. Governor Lee?
Bill Lee: (03:05:53)
We used our office of minority health and disparities elimination. That is an office within our department of health. And we use that office to-
Speaker 24: (03:06:02)
…In our department of health. And we use that office to really advise us on testing, because what we found early on was that our minority populations, our ethnic populations, the uptake in testing was not as it should be. So we tasked that group with really developing relationships to enhance our testing for those underserved populations. We utilized relationships with our housing development agencies and our urban centers, migrant working farming communities that are a part of the agricultural process in the state. We worked with African-American churches, Hispanic churches. We utilized public service announcements on Spanish speaking radio stations. So we worked really hard to make sure that those communities and those underserved populations were hearing from those that they trust about that testing population.
Speaker 24: (03:07:04)
That is the same group now that we have developed those relationships, and we’ve been very grateful for example, the way the African-American leadership has embraced Operation Warp Speed and has communicated that. Meharry Medical College, it’s a nationally recognized HBCU that has worked with us to communicate with the African- American community to talk about the safety of this vaccine, the importance of this population and the uptake of the vaccine. So really it is been a continued effort from the first understanding that the barriers and the access to healthcare were eliminating or limiting the amount of testing. We used that knowledge. And by the way, frankly, one of the things we learned is it matters who delivers the message, very powerfully matters who delivers the message. Not just to that community, but to every community across the state. So attaching the trusted voices in whatever community we’re serving is going to be really important.
Secretary Alex Azar: (03:08:14)
Great. Thank you very much. Governor DeSantis, I know we’re going to have to wrap soon because the Vice-President’s going to be arriving, but do you mind giving us the last word on how you’re thinking about prioritization? How you’re thinking about which groups you try to stack as we roll vaccines out?
Ron DeSantis: (03:08:30)
Yeah. I mean, obviously, we’re prioritizing long-term care residents and staff, and then tip of the spear, healthcare workers, as we get past that, which we think we can do with the first couple of weeks of doses that were allocated, getting to the broader senior population. We have obviously a lot in that regard in Florida. So that would really take us in through the end of January. Then we’re hoping that J&J comes online with the one dose, they’re producing it at such a scale. Then we get that out so that teachers can get it. Law enforcement can get it, and hopefully we’d have enough for whoever wants to do it. So that’s our hope. But the Moderna and the Pfizer, we think based on our allocations, we’re going to be focusing that on high risk populations and the frontline healthcare workers.
Secretary Alex Azar: (03:09:15)
Well, I hope you’ve seen from this panel just how deeply engaged our nation’s governors are in this process. The level of sophistication, understanding, depth of knowledge, amount of planning that they have done. I think every one of you said since the spring been planning on this. And these four governors, while some of the great governors are representative of our nation’s governors and the work that’s going on in every state and territory. So we really appreciate their work and their partnership throughout this pandemic. We look forward to the weeks ahead when you’re going to be getting shots in arms. So thank you very much. Let’s give a round of applause.
Speaker 25: (03:11:11)
The green lights on.
Speaker 26: (03:11:11)
The green light?
Speaker 25: (03:11:13)
Speaker 26: (03:11:15)
So after you introduce him the music is going to start and then he’s going to walk on. [crosstalk 03:11:20].
Speaker 25: (03:11:50)
Yep. Test, test. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, 10. Mic check. [crosstalk 03:11:59].
Okay. Thank you, Secretary Azar and our governors. As you can see, no one knows better what their communities will need than the folks who are closest to it. General Perna and I often share a phrase, and that is you can never let your reach exceed your grasp. I think the federal government understands where its reach ends and where its grasp ends and where we have to hand things off to our governors, our mayors, and our County commissioners. As we said before, I introduced the vice president. I think we started the session today by talking about three objectives, maybe just take a moment to review those.
One was to build a better understanding of how we’re going to get safe and effective vaccines to the American people, anyone who’s desiring one. I think the second one is build confidence that the Trump administration is following data and science in the evaluation and development of these vaccines. I think Peter Marks did a terrific job there. Then the third was again, to recognize achievement, which is all of the private sector innovation, all the commitment and the American spirit, those working with the Trump administration have demonstrated every step of the way to help us get these vaccines out safely and effectively.
I think I’m going to paraphrase Yogi Berra, believe it or not. I think he said, “You can see a lot by watching.” And as I introduce Vice President Pence, here’s a guy who has tirelessly led the White House Coronavirus Task Force for the last seven or eight months. You can see a lot by watching him. This is a multi-agency response. It’s the Department of Defense, it’s the Department of Health and Human Services. It’s the Treasury Department, Secretary Mnuchin, the labor department, Department of Homeland security. And this needed someone who could bring all those folks together and get them to collaborate, get them aligned. The vice president was great at that. He’s also a former Governor. And what you just heard Secretary Azar talk to the governors about their roles, has been in our response and will be absolutely crucial to successful vaccine administration.
The guy is an optimist and good leaders are optimists. We visited a plant up in Wisconsin when GE converted all of its lines to produce ventilators at record pace. Unbelievable. The vice-president just has a very, very special way of motivating folks in dark times and he’s done that for the last seven or eight months, but I told this story before, and I’ll tell it once more. When I first met him about a year ago, I was in the West wing and anyone who spends time in the West wing knows there’s some extraordinarily bright, energetic, but extraordinarily young persons there. I was in a room and he walked up to me and he whispered in my ear, he goes, “I’m glad there’s someone else with gray hair in the room.” So I’d like to introduce the other guy with gray hair to close out our summit, Vice President Mike Pence.
Mike Pence: (03:15:40)
Well, thank you all very much. Paul, thank you for those kind words and for your tireless work at Health and Human Services. To Secretary Azar, really our host for the day, we thank you for your extraordinary leadership and I think he deserves a round of applause, Secretary Alex Azar. We’ve been shoulder to shoulder for 10 months in all of this and the president and I couldn’t be more grateful. Now for the entire team at HHS and all the people that you’ve heard from today, I especially want to express my appreciation to Governor Abbott and Governor DeSantis, Governor Lee and Governor Edwards. I hope in that panel that you just heard, you understood that was just a sampling of a seamless partnership that we have forged with States across the country to put the health of America first. And governors we’re truly grateful. We’re truly grateful. To other members of the cabinet who are with us today, members of Congress to mayors and state and local officials, especially health officials from around the country. Thank you. Thank you for your role in bringing us to the precipice of a breakthrough in American medicine and in the life and health of the American people. We are literally days away from the fulfillment of the vision of Operation Warp Speed. I want to thank you for participating and I want to thank all of you who’ve looked on from afar who take in this vaccine summit. As you heard today over the last several hours, thanks to the leadership of President Donald Trump and the tireless efforts of health officials at the federal level and at the state level around the country, the ingenuity of great research companies, military personnel, our private sector partners in the cooperation of the American people. We believe in all likelihood, just a few days away from the approval and distribution of the first Coronavirus vaccine in America, that is Warp Speed.
Mike Pence: (03:18:15)
From the first day, the president stood up the White House Coronavirus Task Force and asked us to lead it. And we had one mission and that is to save American lives. I believe the advance that we’re about to fulfill and to begin to move out on, will continue that mission a pace and put us one day closer to the day we put the coronavirus in the past. But before I reflect on all that we’ve heard today in the extraordinary professionalism and cooperation that you’ve witnessed, I want to extend my sympathies to the families that may be looking on at this very hour, families that have lost loved ones over the course of this year. Even as we enter a time of a great promise in this country, I want families that have lost loved ones, and those that are still struggling in the midst of this pandemic to know there’s not a day gone by that you haven’t been on the hearts of all of us working at every level.
Mike Pence: (03:19:17)
We will never forget your families or your loved ones as we hasten the day that we put this pandemic in the past. Now, because of the efforts of all of those that you’ve heard from today, and frankly, countless others, we literally are on track to distribute tens of millions of doses of the coronavirus vaccine before the end of this month. We’re about to make history and together we’re going to continue to save lives across this country. With the approval of first coronavirus vaccine, we believe it is likely within days. And as I said, we are one step closer to the day that as a people, we will put this pandemic in the past. And as the president said from this very podium today that America will continue to do our part to help families and peoples around the world. From the very beginning, I hope it is evident to all of you that President Trump’s vision to our nation’s response was not just a whole of government approach, but it’s been a whole of America approach.
Mike Pence: (03:20:19)
Meeting all of the challenges that we face from early on. We reinvented testing. We saw to the delivery of billions of medical supplies and equipment. We develop new medicines and therapeutics, and now just days away from the approval and distribution of millions of doses of this vaccine. I must tell you having been working every single day over the last 10 months toward this objective as an American, as your vice-president, as the head of the White House Coronavirus Task Force, I’m humbled and I’m very grateful for what the American people have accomplished. I’m grateful for the leadership of our president, the tireless efforts of all the health officials that have worked every step of the way. I’m grateful for the ingenuity of the great research companies all across this great nation and for the compassion of our people. After today’s summit, I suspect more people than ever around the country will look at the progress that we are about to fulfill in Operation Warp Speed. And they will say, as I have said before, “Only in America.” We are honored to have all of you to participate, and all of you looking on to participate in this vaccine summit. The president wanted to convene this gathering to inform the American people of the progress that we’ve made in Operation Warp Speed, but also to give credit where credit is due. Operation Warp Speed is a modern American miracle, but it’s an accomplishment of all of the American people. It’s amazing to think that the average development timeline for a vaccine can take eight to 12 years, but as you heard today, we’re on track to accomplish a safe and effective coronavirus vaccine in eight to 12 months. Before Operation Warp Speed the fastest prior vaccine development in the United States took over four years. But as the president said earlier today, we’ve developed a gold standard vaccine in just nine months. Only in America.
Mike Pence: (03:22:38)
The dates speak for themselves. January 10th, we received the first sequence of the coronavirus vaccine. Literally the next day, scientists went to work with private research companies and the National Institute of Health to begin to develop a vaccine. Within six weeks, which was also a record time, we were already in phase one clinical trials. With the support of many of the members of Congress that you saw here today, we were able to secure some $10 billion to develop a vaccine. But it would be in May of this year that the president launched Operation Warp Speed that you have heard in great detail today. The president said then that they were looking to get a vaccine by the end of the year but in August, President Trump made a promise.
Mike Pence: (03:23:22)
He actually said, and I quote, “We will have a safe and effective vaccine this year.” And here we are. The president’s promise was met with considerable skepticism, not only in the scientific community, but across the public debate, but as we stand here today and we celebrate what we believe is the likely approval of two safe and effective coronavirus vaccines. The American people deserve to know that there are actually four vaccine candidates in large phase three clinical trials, as we speak. Operation Warp Speed, we believe is about to commence. It’s about to save lives and it will continue to expand to the benefit of the American people and the world.
Mike Pence: (03:24:12)
We’re moving at record speed, but the American people can be confident that while we have cut red tape, we’ve cut no corners. Our standards for safety and effectiveness are just as rigorous as they have ever been. And the American people can be encouraged. Those that’ll have opportunities in this initial phase to take the vaccine can be confident that the approval is ensured that this vaccine is not just effective, but is safe. As you heard today, as well beyond the development of this extraordinary American medical miracle, once the vaccine is approved, we are in a position with the great work of General Perna and the American military and our private sector partners to literally ship millions of doses across the country within 24 hours.
Mike Pence: (03:25:07)
But ultimately the decision about where the vaccines are distributed is up to governors. That’s why the final panel today was so important. It’s important for the American people to know that from very early on, we have operated against the philosophy that this is a national response to this pandemic that is federally supported, but state managed and locally executed. And we’ve deferred in this instance, as we have throughout this pandemic, to the judgment of governors all across the nation, the States and the territories of this country who are best equipped to know the point of the need in their state. How about another round of applause for the governors that you heard from today? We’re truly grateful.
Mike Pence: (03:25:53)
Operation Warp Speed like all that we have done is not just been a whole of government approach at every level, but it is, as I said, a whole of America approach. You heard today from some of the nation’s top logistics and shipping companies, one of which I witnessed firsthand visiting Governor Lee’s great state of Tennessee last week at the headquarters of FedEx. But FedEx, UPS and McKesson are going to serve as a critical link, getting the vaccine to the point of the need. What’s important for the American people to understand is that we’re not reinventing the wheel here. These are companies that have already in the past, particularly in McKesson’s case, been involved in distributing millions of vaccines across America. We’re just building a bigger wheel, but building on top of the experience that we have. So how about a big round of applause for those great logistics companies that are about partner for the healthy American people?
Mike Pence: (03:26:48)
I also heard we’ve called on companies like CVS and Walgreens to be able to deliver and administer vaccines. It’s remarkable. I heard this at the White House Coronavirus Task Force, just this past week, we are in a position because of these great American companies and retailers, we’re in a position to administer vaccines to 99% of America’s nursing homes onsite free of charge the moment the vaccines arrive. Only in America. With Warp Speed I want to say, as I close is really just emblematic of the approach that President Trump took from very early on in the midst of this pandemic. He launched the greatest national mobilization since World War II. We reinvented testing from a standing start.
Mike Pence: (03:27:43)
It’s amazing to think when I was tapped to lead the White House Coronavirus Task Force, we’d done less than 10,000 coronavirus tests in America. Today, we do roughly two million a day and I’ve done more than 200 million Coronavirus tests giving us greater visibility on the impact of the pandemic and those who are in harm’s way. We marshaled the full power of the American economy early on, not just in this project, but in the development of PPE and equipment. We literally saw to the manufacturer and delivery of billions of medical supplies. While we see cases rising and hospitalization rising across the country with our team on the ground here, working closely with governors, we literally are able to track hospital capacity on a hospital by hospital basis. And we’re going to continue to work around the clock to make sure our hospitals and our healthcare workers have the PPE and supplies they need to give any American family the same level of care that we’d want a member of our family to have.
Mike Pence: (03:28:51)
The story of therapeutics is also an extraordinary one. I remember in early March, when we gathered all the great research companies together in the cabinet room and the president challenged each and every one of them, not only to go to work on a vaccine, but to go to work on the development of medicines, therapeutics that would give people relief, who were impacted by the coronavirus. As we stand here today, the FDA has literally approved dozens and dozens of life saving therapeutics. I’m actually told that we’ve already delivered 185,000 doses of therapeutics to coronavirus patients across America. It’s extraordinary. And the truth is even as we see cases rising around the country and hospitalizations rising, I want the American people to know that we’ve never been better prepared to combat the coronavirus than we are today. This is a time of great promise and hope for the American people.
Mike Pence: (03:29:52)
But that being said with the rising cases across America, it’s also a time of renewed vigilance. As we close today, what is, I know for all of us gathered here and all of those looking on a time of great promise, a time of great encouragement, the American people should know that we all still have work to do. And every single one one of us has a role to play. With cases rising and hospitalizations rising in virtually every jurisdiction around America. It’s time once again, to redouble our efforts, to put the health of our families, our neighbors, and our communities first, and we all know what to do with the American people demonstrated in the early days of March and April, we know how to slow the spread. We know how to flatten the curve. We know how to save lives.
Mike Pence: (03:30:50)
Practice good hygiene, wash your hands, practice social distancing, or wear a mask when it’s not possible, or whenever local authorities indicate that it’s appropriate. So the way that we got through the early days of this pandemic and we flatten the curve save lives. It’s the way we got through the Sun Belt outbreak. And it’s a way we’ll see our way through the months ahead between now and when the Coronavirus vaccine that will likely be approved this week will be widely available for every American. President often says, and it’s more obvious today than maybe ever before. We are rounding the corner and we can see light at the end of the tunnel, but to reach the end of the tunnel and to save American lives, we just need to redouble our efforts. We have a ways to go America. So I just want to encourage you all to be patient days ahead.
Mike Pence: (03:31:49)
My wife and I ran a marathon, about 10 years ago. And the records in that marathon were all intact when we finished. I will tell you, they told us when we were running that the last five miles of a marathon are the toughest. You come around that corner and after that 21st mile, you’re absolutely convinced that you never felt better in your life. You can see the finish line and, and then your legs start to tighten up. The truth of the matter is we’ve been running a marathon in this country, haven’t we? But I want the American people to know the finish line is around the corner. We can see it from here. By the spring we anticipate or shortly thereafter, we’ll have what we believe will be multiple safe and effective coronavirus vaccines for every American that wants one. Well, we got to get there. So I want to encourage you from the bottom of my heart, to continue to be diligent, to put your health, your family’s health and your community’s health first.
Mike Pence: (03:32:53)
I can’t help but think of that ancient verse that says, “Do not grow weary in well-doing for in the proper time, we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Now’s the time for us to stay focused, be encouraged because of the extraordinary innovation, the dedication of health officials at every level, these great research companies are extraordinary private partners. We are literally on the cusp of putting the Coronavirus in the past. We are coming very close in the days ahead, I believe to the beginning of the end of the coronavirus pandemic in America. But it will yet be months to go. We have miles to go before we sleep.
Mike Pence: (03:33:37)
So we encourage you all to continue to do your part, but I have every confidence with the dedication of all the officials represented here so well at every level, with programs like Operation Warp Speed, with the dedication of our healthcare workers and our first responders, researchers around the country and with the cooperation of the American people, we’ll get through this. I have every confidence. I have faith that with your help and with God’s grace, we will heal our land and we will heal our land together. Thank you all very much. Thank you for being a part of this important summit and God bless you all.