Health: Operation Warp Speed

The Story:

What President Donald Trump and his administration call “Operation Warp Speed” is an effort to develop and  distribute an effective vaccine for Covid-19 by January 2021. There are several “candidate vaccines” under development by the large pharmaceutical concerns, including Moderna, AstraZeneca, and Pfizer.


As the thalidomide scandal of sixty years ago so dramatically demonstrated, apparent wonder drugs can prove to be traps, disasters laying in wait. More recently, there are some people who believe that autism is itself the consequence of poisoning brought about by vaccination. (This is now at best a fringe view among scientists, but it is still part of the culture.) The notion of speeding up the process of vaccine development and approval to “warp speed” to meet an arbitrary deadline for Covid-19 strikes many as being, at least, as dangerous as the virus itself.

The Thing to Know: 

In this case, the concern is not merely that a rushed-to-market vaccine might be unsafe, but that even if it has no direct harmful effects, an ineffective vaccine could be worse than nothing at all. It could encourage the recipients to resume acting as if there is no Covid-19 threat, in the process creating new ‘superspreader events.’


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