Operation Warp Speed (OWS) was launched on May 15, 2020 with the goal of accelerating “the testing, supply, development, and distribution of safe and effective vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics to counter Covid-19.” The largely untold story of how OWS was miraculously able to create vaccines in just a few months is a triumph of public health policy. It saved countless lives. But it is also a triumph and validation of industrial policy.
OWS offers insights into what is required to rebuild American industrial capabilities more generally. Investing in only basic scientific research, which is the traditional strategy of the United States, is not sufficient. Conventional fiscal or monetary policy is no longer working effectively to foster domestic productivity growth or to prevent deindustrialization. OWS-type interventions offer an entirely new repertoire of economic policies that could be a blueprint for industrial strategy going forward. OWS shows how the United States can reimagine and leapfrog existing manufacturing paradigms to dominate the technologies of the future.
Background: RED DAWN
The pandemic preparedness community realized fairly early in 2020 that the novel coronavirus posed a severe threat. News about the virus kept going from bad to worse. It was originally hoped that it would