President-elect Biden chooses former FDA chief Kessler to lead Operation Warp Speed


"Operation Warp Speed was the Trump administration's name for their response".

President-elect Joe Biden has chosen Dr. David Kessler to help lead Operation Warp Speed, the program to accelerate development of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments, according to transition officials. Experts say the US will need to vaccinate upwards of 250 million people to approach the goal of "herd immunity", where there is widespread resistance to virus allowing for a return to normal life.

Previously, Kessler served as FDA commissioner from 1990 to 1997, under the presidencies of George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton.

A person advising the Biden transition team said Kessler will take on the role now being carried out by Dr. Moncef Slaoui, a prominent vaccine scientist and innovator who has been serving as chief advisor to Operation Warp Speed.

CNN reports people who worked under "Warp Speed" will continue to "be critical to our response, too".

To date, Kessler has reportedly briefed Biden 50 or 60 times on the vaccine rollout, as the New York Times reports, and he warned Biden back in December that Operation Warp Speed was not well prepared for the actual logistics of getting vaccines into arms.

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Shots from Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna, whose vaccines were approved by the United States last month, come in the form of two doses.

Some states, like NY, have implemented strict rules about the administration of the vaccine, prioritizing front-line medical workers to get the vaccine first, followed by essential workers such as grocery store employees and teachers.

Kessler is expected to provide advice on vaccine manufacturing, distribution, safety and efficacy. "That is creating a scheduling backlog and it's creating pressure on what was supposed to be the prioritization process", Cuomo said.

"What they do know is there are tens of millions of doses of vaccines sitting unused in a freezer, while people who want and need the vaccine can't get it", he said.

Federal officials recommended opening eligibility to people age 65 and up earlier this week and NY agreed. So far fewer than 12 million doses have been administered.