COVID-19 continues to dominate headlines on the daily as the vaccine is starting to reach states. Defense contracts are still being awarded to contractors for research funded through the U.S. military. One agency that is a constant in the chaos is managing the largest multi-site distribution complex in the Department of Defense: the Defense Logistics Agency supporting Operation Warp Speed.
Operation Warp Speed is a partnership that was started in April 2020 by the U.S. government to facilitate and fast-track the development, manufacturing, and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics amidst the pandemic. The program fosters production of vaccines, and allowed for quicker allocation if clinical trials confirmed a vaccine was safe and effective.
Well here we are in the second half of January 2021, and Operation Warp Speed is full speed ahead indeed. The DLA’s distribution started with shipping Moderna vaccines to DoD employees in OCONUS locations including a U.S. Navy fleet and a few locations stateside just before Christmas. As the nation’s combat logistics agency, DLA manages the global supply chain from raw materials to end user to disposition for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, 10 combatant commands, and other federal agencies.
For Operation Warp Speed, their distribution has six U.S. and four overseas centers that are adept at managing the delicate cargo. While this team has delivered seasonal flu vaccines to military branches for two decades, this COVID-19 vaccine mission requires many more procedures to sustain proper temperatures. Refrigerated trucks, dry-ice, specialized training, and dedicated cold equipment are all part of the logistics strategy.
DLA Distribution Commander Marine Corps General Keith D. Reventlow says he could not be more proud of the distribution team. “They’re working tirelessly to get the vaccine out as quickly as possible while maintaining the -20 degrees Celsius temperature required to sustain the vaccine’s validity,” he noted.
The first doses of Moderna vaccines and other essential shipments have arrived at US Forces Korea locations, Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan, Naval Base Health Clinic Bahrain, three locations in Germany, two in Belgium and a number of others within the contiguous US. Certain key personnel are being vaccinated during this preliminary dissemination, and patients will be given two doses of the vaccine under guidelines from the FDA and manufacturer medical regulations.