The New York Times has reported that five vaccine finalists have been selected for the US Government’s Operation Warpspeed. The official announcement is expected in coming weeks.
Operation Warpspeed is a public-private partnership led by former GlaxoSmithKline executive Moncef Slaoui launched in mid-May. It focuses on accelerating development of vaccines and therapies for Covid-19 with the aim of having a vaccine available by the end of the year.
The five companies selected were Moderna, AstraZeneca-University of Oxford, Johnson & Johnson (J&J), Merck and Pfizer. Moderna and AstraZeneca’s vaccines are both in Phase II, while Pfizer’s candidate, which is being developed with BioNTech, is in Phase I/II trials. J&J and Merck are both earlier along in the development process.
Little is known about Operational Warpspeed and precisely how it plans to accelerate Covid-19 vaccine development. However, the assumption is that by being selected as finalists these companies will have access to more US Government funding to support their efforts.
The most notable of the companies excluded is Sanofi. This interesting following controversy about access to the medicine; initially the company’s CEO had stated the US would receive first access to its vaccine, but then the company had to backtrack following protestations from the French Government.