EconVue Spotlight - Operation Warp Speed October 31, 2020

posted by Lyric Hughes Hale on October 31, 2020 - 2:56pm

Halloween weekend seems a good time to try to look past fears about the US elections to the lingering challenges that continue to haunt the global economy. As COVID cases accelerate, the hope that this disease would burn itself out has vanished, and a lasting economic recovery seems to hinge on finding a vaccine.  Beyond distribution, costs, vaccine reticence, and logistics, what are the hurdles we face once a preventative inoculation has been found?  

One issue is that a successful vaccine could require storage at ultra-cold temperatures, and in fact at least one currently in development at Pfizer does need to be stored at -70 C. We do not have the ability to do that on a large scale, but Operation Warp Speed is an unprecedented public-private partnership working on that problem, and many others. You'll find several links below that describe OWS. 

With all of the resources that have been devoted to healthcare research in 2020 there should be enormous benefits over the longer term, in spite of the unexpected price we are paying now. The entire field of global health is fairly young, dating back only to the 1990's, accelerated by non-governmental organizations such as the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Public-private partnerships are spurring innovation. I highly recommend the interview below with Melinda Moree, a pioneer in global public health.

At a conference in Shanghai last week, Xi Jinping reasserted that China was open to international scientific cooperation. China's health care system is a global issue facing domestic imperatives. Yanzhong Huang at the Council on Foreign Relations has a new book out about the impact of the environment on the health of Chinese citizens, a slow-moving crisis even more devastating than the current pandemic.  Huang estimates that pollution causes two million deaths a year in China and sickens many more.  His interview below is well worth a listen.

This is of course election week in the US and several of our EconVue experts have something to say about it. The most sanguine, Michael Lewis argues that ultimately it really doesn't matter who wins. I like Vermonter Calvin Coolidge's take "To live under the American Constitution is the greatest political privilege that was ever accorded to the human race."  Whatever happens in the near term.

Historian Amity Schlaes, author of The Forgotten Man and The Great Society has just edited a new edition of President Coolidge's autobiography. He was was our most literary, and forgotten president. I'd like to close with some comments she made on Twitter recently: "History is not about social change. It is about offering a fuller record for American inquiry. The past is past, and that is what is lovable, scary and useful about it." So Happy Halloween weekend. As always, we welcome your comments and suggestions, and hope you will follow us on Twitter and support us on Patreon. If you would like to contribute to EconVue, please contact Managing Editor Ying Zhan:, More podcasts are coming soon!

Research from EconVue Friends & Experts

October 14, 2020 
Election Year 2020: Bidenomics vs Trumponomics
Marsha Vande Berg

Trump’s proposals for a second term would add $4.95 trillion to the debt through 2030. The Biden plan would contribute to a $5.6 trillion deficit over the same decade-long period. Each candidate’s one-time spending on infrastructure, for example, is similarly in the same ballpark. The Trump plan would cost $2.45 trillion and the Biden plan, $2.35 trillion.

October 29, 2020 / 4sight Health
Stop Worrying About ACA Repeal: It’s Not Going to Happen (Part A)
David W. Johnson 

At a surface level, the ACA’s future seems in real peril. The Trump Administration supports the ACA’s full repeal. Newly installed Justice Amy Coney Barrett gives conservatives the Supreme Court votes they need to overturn the law. The Court will begin hearing a case challenging the ACA’s constitutionality soon. A judicial guillotine appears ready to eliminate or severely modify the Obama Administration’s signature legislative accomplishment. It’s not going to happen. Like rock ‘n roll, the ACA is here to stay.

Oct 22, 2020 / Sonecon
Continuing Job Losses in Swing States May Seal Trump’s Fate
Robert Shapiro 

The extraordinary jobs losses across groups that have given Trump his foundational political support almost certainly explain why he has forfeited his longstanding advantage on handling the economy.   
I would like to add: I am not sure why so little attention is paid to the relationship between school closures and the employment recovery, which has been especially slow for women. 

Oct 20, 2020 / Wilson Center
China's Advance in the Caribbean
R. Evan Ellis 

In a new Latin American Program report, Professor Ellis details how China is expanding its presence in the strategically important Caribbean through infrastructure investment, COVID-19 aid, and security sector assistance. 


Sep. 17 2020 / Quartz
US freezers aren’t cold enough to store one major coronavirus vaccine
Olivia Goldhill

Ultra-cold freezers are suddenly a hot commodity. One of the most advanced US coronavirus vaccines, created by Pfizer in partnership with BioNTech, has to be stored at -70° Celsius (-94° Fahrenheit), or around 30°C colder than the North Pole in winter. It’s not certain that the vaccine will be approved for widespread distribution. But, if it is, very few freezers go that cold.

2020 / U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
The Operation Warp Speed Strategy for Distributing a COVID-19 Vaccine

This report to Congress details a strategy to achieve the principal purpose and objective of Operation Warp Speed (OWS): ensuring that every American who wants to receive a COVID-19 vaccine can receive one, by delivering safe and effective vaccine doses to the American people beginning January 2021. 

Oct. 29 2020 / New England Journal of Medicine
Developing Safe and Effective Covid Vaccines — Operation Warp Speed’s Strategy and Approach
Moncef Slaoui and Matthew Hepburn

OWS’s role is to enable, accelerate, harmonize, and advise the companies developing the selected vaccines. The companies will execute the clinical or process development and manufacturing plans, while OWS leverages the full capacity of the U.S. government to ensure that no technical, logistic, or financial hurdles hinder vaccine development or deployment.

October 30 2020 / Chinese Embassy
Notice on Airline Boarding Requirements for Certificates of Negative Nucleic Acid and Anti-Body Blood Tests Results

Starting from November 6, 2020, all Chinese and foreign passengers bound for China will be required to take nucleic acid and IgM anti-body tests and apply for a green health code with the "HS" mark or a certified health declaration form before boarding. 
In other words, if you have ever had COVID you will not be able to go to China.  This would include President Trump; reports say that he has not spoken to Xi Jinping since the pandemic began in the US. 

Oct 20, 2020 / National Bureau of Asian Research
What Covid-19 Means for Global Health R&D

In this interview, Melinda Moree, a leading global public health expert, discusses what the Covid-19 pandemic means for the future of global health R&D funding, collaboration, and infrastructure, as well as how existing R&D is being used to help turn the tide against the pandemic.

Sep. 26 2020 / The Economist
The pandemic is plunging millions back into extreme poverty
Cardenas, Kampala and Mumbai
Hunger and malnutrition that is a direct result of the pandemic will cause more misery than COVID itself. Children escape the virus, but suffer disproportionately from a lack of food.

Oct 20, 2020 / National Bureau of Economic Research
Human Capital Depreciation
Michael Dinerstein, Rigissa Megalokonomou & Constantine Yannelis

It's not just that unused skills depreciate and are difficult to measure, it is the overall well-being of workers and their families. We know from many economic studies that it is hard to rebuild both economic and physical health in these communities.

November 2020 / American Economic Association
How Antitrust Enforcement Can Spur Innovation: Bell Labs and the 1956 Consent Decree
Martin Watzinger, Thomas A. Fackler, Markus Nagler and Monika Schnitzer

Is compulsory licensing an effective antitrust remedy to increase innovation? To answer this question, we analyze the 1956 consent decree that settled an antitrust lawsuit against Bell, a vertically integrated monopolist charged with foreclosing the telecommunications equipment market. 

Sep 30, 2020 / Reuters
China preparing an antitrust investigation into Google - sources
Cheng Leng, Keith Zhai, David Kirton

Initiated by Huawei. I will have definitely have to read up on Chinese anti-trust law.

Feb 28, 2020 / American Banker
We shouldn't have to wait for FedNow to have faster payments
George Selgin, Aaron D. Klein

America’s payment system seems more like it belongs to a developing nation than to one of the wealthiest countries on the planet.

Oct 18, 2020 / Twitter Thread
If you don't think Central Bank Digital Currencies are coming, you are missing the big and important picture
Raoul Pal @RaoulGMI

"This is going to be the biggest overhaul of the global financial system since Bretton Woods." My take: Central bank digital currencies -which are the opposite of decentralized cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin-would pave the way for painless collection of negative interest rates. But once inflation reappears, and it will, that particular utility will be meaningless.

Oct 14, 2020 / FEDS Notes
The Stock Market–Real Economy "Disconnect": A Closer Look
Andrew Chen, Markus Ibert and Francisco Vazquez-Grande

Short term vs long term expectations explain the disconnect according to a new Fed paper.

Oct 12 2020 / Financial Times
Chinese groups go from fish to chips in new ‘Great Leap Forward’
Kathrin Hille and Sun Yu

The pandemic will have many unintentional consequences, but growth in innovation should not be a surprise. And not just China: US new business applications are the highest on record.

Oct 5 2020 / Financial Times
The great uncoupling: one supply chain for China, one for everywhere else
Kathrin Hille

Dual circulation.