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Operation Warp Speed’s Big Vaccine Contracts Could Stay Secret

Instead of entering into contracts directly with vaccine makers, more than $6 billion in Operation Warp Speed funding has been routed through a defense contract management firm called Advanced Technologies International, Inc. ATI then awarded contracts to companies working on COVID-19 vaccines.

As a result, the contracts between the pharmaceutical companies and ATI may not be available through public records requests, and additional documents are exempt from public disclosure for five years.

Vaccine contracts awarded this way include $1.6 billion for Novavax, $1.95 billion for Pfizer, $1.79 billion for Sanofi and $1 billion for Johnson & Johnson.

NPR first began looking into the possibility of a third party when HHS responded that it had “no records” in response to a federal Freedom of Information Act request for the $1.6 billion vaccine contract with Novavax, which the agency announced in July.

Read more by Sydney Lupkin at NPR

Trump administration’s project to develop a Covid-19 vaccine – which is funneling money through a nongovernmental intermediary, a move that is likely to reignite worries over the project’s opaque nature.

Operation Warp Speed’s opaque choices of COVID-19 vaccines draw Senate scrutiny

At Senate subcommittee hearing on 2 July 2020 that focused on Warp Speed, scientists at the front of the effort, after repeated questioning, gave limited answers about the vaccine candidates they have chosen for funding and their selection criteria.

At the opening of the hearing—held by the Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies—Senator Patty Murray (D–WA) put the witnesses on notice that she wanted straightforward answers on many issues. “We’re going to need to hold this administration accountable to avoid repeating mistakes and delays,” Murray said. “The administration still has not provided any explanation of how it is selecting vaccine candidates, what the risks are of narrowing down that shortlist or addressed concerns about potential conflicts in contracts that predate this crisis.”

Read more by Jon Cohen at Science

Scanning electromicrograph of Staphylococcus aureus bacteria.

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