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Operation Warp speed demonstrates the best of American innovation

By Joni Ernst

Last week, Moderna asked the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to authorize use of its COVID-19 vaccine after reporting 94 percent efficacy in its trial. This comes on the heels of both Pfizer and AstraZeneca announcing that their respective coronavirus vaccines are 90 percent or more effective.

Shortly after the outbreak of COVID-19, my colleagues and I in the Senate got to work to enact bipartisan legislation to provide emergency support for American families, seniors, small businesses, health care workers and countless others in need. This also included nearly $10 billion in funding for research and development of vaccines and treatments through Operation Warp Speed (OWS), a partnership between the public and private sectors aimed at producing and delivering enough doses of safe, effective vaccines for every American. And I’m hopeful my Democratic colleagues will come back to the table and help us pass additional COVID-19 relief that will help fund the distribution of these vaccines across the country.

Before COVID-19, the fastest vaccine development to date — for the mumps — took four years. Last week, Moncef Slaoui, the head of OWS, said he hopes most Americans will be immunized by the middle of next year.

Thanks to the swift and tireless work of the Trump administration and the partners and medical professionals who rose to the challenge, Operation Warp Speed has been a tremendous success.

Operation Warp Speed has demonstrated the best of American innovation. We’ve allowed for the private and public sectors to work hand-in-hand and to utilize our nation’s full capabilities — including the brilliant American scientists and researchers who have worked so hard these past few months — to get the job done.

I am particularly proud of the researchers, and hundreds of volunteers in Iowa who are contributing to the development of several of the promising vaccines. The University of Iowa is participating in the trial tests of the Pfizer vaccine, and Iowa State University is already working on a next generation COVID vaccine that would be delivered with a nasal spray. This effort is being supported with a $2 million grant provided by the CARES Act I helped pass earlier this year. But that’s not all. The Des Moines-based Iowa Clinic has just been selected by AstraZeneca to conduct clinical trials of yet another vaccine.

These are exciting developments, but it’s critical to remember that we’re not out of the woods yet — we all need to continue to protect our most vulnerable populations and ensure the health and safety of our loved ones. We must heed the calls of our Gov. Kim Reynolds and our public health experts to step up and do our part to stop the spread and help save lives.

This year has not been easy, but it has also shown the resilient spirit that makes our nation so great. Operation Warp Speed is no exception. As I’ve said throughout this pandemic, we’re going to get through this — together. So hang in there, Iowa; continue to do your part: wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear your mask. And of course, please stay safe and stay strong.

U.S. Sen. Joni Ernst, a Republican, represents Iowa.

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