The following is the opinion and analysis of the writer:
This aerospace engineering manager has spent his career managing complex problematic programs, those not performing well and hemorrhaging cash. Now I watch as President Trump responds to the coronavirus challenge and I like what I see: Crisis Management 101.
The first rule is to “stop the bleeding.” For me that usually meant shutting down a production line, because if you’re producing garbage, there’s not much point in building more. Trump’s tourniquet was to close our borders in draconian fashion. Good for you Mr. President.
Secondly we must understand and communicate the definition of success so there is a compass to guide us. With Trump the ultimate goal is an effective, universal vaccine for the virus — its variants and novel pathogens instantly available in the US and then everywhere in the world. With that, not only are lives saved but world economies return to normal and with anything less we are just holding our thumb to the wound.
Thirdly we ask brilliant, knowledgeable experts to suggest the solution and not surprisingly, the number of success paths always equals the number of experts. Next we fund all of them! Expensive you say, but not compared to the salaries of the folks on my production line that are playing poker on my watch. Trump is sitting at the highs stakes table and the cards dealt are misery, death and economic shutdown. He doubles down.
Trump has zero tolerance for the pace of vaccine approval by the FDA; in the past 25 years they have approved seven, the last being for Ebola three years after the epidemic ended. The president wants 300 million doses, enough to protect as many as 90% of Americans — developed, manufactured and delivered this year. He has ordered a massive scientific, industrial and logistical endeavor unlike anything our country has seen since the Manhattan Project demanding academics, government officials, private companies and the U.S. military work together.
Trump’s Operation Warp Speed envisions that many steps that have always followed each other in strict sequence — clinical trials and production, for instance, or government approval and supply-chain development — be done in parallel.
All promising candidate vaccines will be funded as if each was the ultimate solution including the immediate manufacture of millions of doses of these untested unproven drugs. Since the operation requires the manufacture, procurement and storage of complex biologic medicines, as well as the vials, needles, syringes and storage equipment needed to deliver them, that massive effort has been entrusted to our U.S. Army logistics specialists.
A plan that moves this quickly may be viewed as a double edged sword: The sharp edge: An effective vaccine may result. The blunt side: A vaccine’s rarer side effects are often not recognized until it’s put into broad use.
Trump is slashing in one direction to eliminate 99% of the problem. When the sword is turned around, we have multiple semi-effective sera that are important to deal with mutations, i.e., an evolving plethora of vaccine choices, not only because some will be ready earlier than others, but because some will be more effective than others in certain population groups and cultures.
Trump will effect top level reorganization at CDC, WHO and even in China. No player will admit culpability, but change will happen.
I wanted a businessperson in the White House instead of just another lawyer and I got one. Trump will see us through.
Jeffrey McConnel is a University of Arizona graduate and retired aerospace engineer.
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