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Welch and Porter Demand Increased Oversight and Transparency Of ‘Operation Warp Speed’ Vaccine Development Program

July 23, 2020
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Representatives Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and Katie Porter (D-Calif.) on Thursday sent a letter with 22 other members of Congress to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar to ask how the more than $6.6 billion in taxpayer funds going to private pharmaceutical companies through ‘Operation Warp Speed’ (OWS) will support development of an affordable vaccine for COVID-19.

“We write to thank you for your continued efforts to accelerate the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics for SARS-CoV-2,” wrote the lawmakers. “However, on the heels of the largest government contract awarded to date to develop a vaccine, we remain concerned about transparency and oversight around Operation Warp Speed (OWS)… Every American understands the urgency to develop a vaccine to counter the devastating effects COVID-19 has had on this country, and to return our nation and the world to a more normal footing. But we must do so safely and transparently.”

Launched in May by the Trump administration as a private-public partnership with the stated goal to accelerate the development of vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to combat the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, OWS has already pledged $6.6 billion to pharmaceutical companies without making public the full scope of the project or how companies receiving federal funding were selected. Most concerningly, many of these companies plan to utilize experimental techniques, and one has never produced a Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved product before.

The lawmakers are also concerned that a vaccine produced using the taxpayer funds provided by OWS could be unaffordable for many Americans. They specifically request that any OWS contracts include requirements that vaccines and drugs that receive federal funding be available to the U.S. government and individuals at a discounted price to reflect the investment of taxpayers.

To read the full letter, please click here.