To track COVID vaccine recipients, Operation Warp Speed has resurrected a program devised after the September 11 attacks that was quickly defunded following public backlash over privacy concerns.
Operation Warp Speed, a joint operation between U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD), continues to be shrouded in secrecy, but little by little information is emerging that long-term monitoring of the U.S. public is part of the plan.
At face value, OWS is a public-private partnership tasked with producing therapeutics and a fast-tracked COVID-19 vaccine — 300 million doses’ worth that are intended to be made available starting in January 2021.
But it appears the involvement doesn’t end there. Rather than just ensuring a vaccine is produced and made available for those who want it, Moncef Slaoui, the chief scientific adviser for Operation Warp Speed, dubbed the coronavirus vaccine czar, said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal that the rollout will include “incredibly precise … tracking systems.”
Their purpose? “To ensure that patients each get two doses of the same vaccine and to monitor them for adverse health effects.” In an interview with The New York Times, Slaoui described it as a “very active pharmacovigilance surveillance system.”
What will the vaccine monitoring system entail?
This is the number one question, and one that hasn’t been answered, at least not officially. “While Slaoui himself was short on specifics regarding this ‘pharmacovigilance surveillance system,’” news outlet Humans Are Free reported, “the few official documents from OWS that have been publicly released offer some details about what this system may look like and how long it is expected to ‘track’ the vital signs and whereabouts of Americans who receive a Warp Speed vaccine.”
One of the documents, “From the Factory to the Frontlines: The Operation Warp Speed Strategy for Distributing a COVID-19 Vaccine,” was released by HHS. It also mentions the use of pharmacovigilance surveillance along with Phase 4 (post-licensure) clinical trials in order to assess the vaccines’ long-term safety, since “some technologies have limited previous data on safety in humans.”