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Few Billion More

The budget of Operation Warp Speed, the Trump Administration initiative to quickly develop a coronavirus vaccine, is $18 billion, much higher than the oft-cited $10 billion figure, Bloomberg reports.

Developing a vaccine typically takes years, and Operation Warp Speed aims to speed the process up by not only bringing academics, government officials, private companies, and the military work together, but also by enabling steps that usually occur one after another to take place at the same time.

Congress allocated $10 billion in funding to the program, but Bloomberg says the initiative has also gotten funding through the shifting of funds from other public health programs. It says a Government Accountability Office report reveals that $6 billion was transferred to Operation Warp Speed from the $16.7 billion budget of the US Strategic National Stockpile, which funds the collection of medical gear, ventilators, and testing supplies. In addition, Bloomberg reports that another $1 billion was redirected from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention budget to Operation Warp Speed.

Howard Koh, a former assistant secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services, tells Bloomberg that such transfers are allowed, but how it is being done raises some concerns. "Transparency has got to be held at the highest level," Koh, now at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, adds.

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