1Day Sooner and the Institute for Progress are working on a Schmidt Futures-funded project to develop a lobbying campaign for an “Operation Warp Speed 2.0” to create universal coronavirus vaccines.[1] Beyond this pandemic, we want this to create precedent and infrastructure for the broader use of “advanced market commitments” to accelerate development and deployment of vaccines and antibiotics, which would have major longtermist and disease burden benefits. Because of the scale and complexity of the policy we’re envisioning, we need help with research. If you’re reading this and have 5-10 hours a week over the next 4-6 weeks, we could use your help (and can pay for your time).

 

Why Warp Speed 2.0? Pandemic preparedness and vaccine development for neglected diseases are each seriously underfunded. The GOP is likely to win at least one house of Congress this November and tends to be averse to large government spending. But Operation Warp Speed’s success and connection to President Trump give it a unique attraction to a GOP audience. Moreover the advanced purchase commitment framework it utilized (of guaranteeing large purchases of effective vaccines) creates a market-friendly framework that could be supported by conservatives in the U.S. and elsewhere. 

 

Beyond the benefits of developing a financing model with potential bipartisan support capable of efficiently funding effective altruist goals, successfully creating a universal coronavirus vaccine* would serve as proof of concept for the 100 day prototype vaccine strategy aimed at developing universal vaccines ahead of time to pathogens with pandemic potential. Thus both the campaign’s object-level goal (accelerating coronavirus vaccines) and meta-goal (expanding the long-term use of advanced market commitments) have major EA benefits beyond reducing COVID disease burden.

 

What Help Is Needed? Time is of the essence to introduce a strong bill and launch a campaign quickly, but the scale and complexity of the policy (along with its multiple moving parts) make the research needed fairly involved and time consuming. At the same time, we think the key questions we’ve identified are independent enough from each other that they can be broken into discrete tasks where progress is possible with work on a part-time basis. Basically, we’re trying an experiment to emulate the research process at the beginning of 1Day Sooner when our organization relied on a number of EAs to provide research help on challenge trials and eventually produce this piece (as well as a great deal of background knowledge crucial to our informing the public and advocating for effective policy). That work was done almost entirely on a volunteer basis but research assistance on this project would be compensated (typically in the $30-$50/hr range depending on experience).

 

How Can I Get Involved? Email josh@1daysooner.org, reference this post, and include a paragraph about your background and time availability. Also indicate one or two research questions in the agenda below that you might be interested in exploring. We’re going to aim to host a kickoff session for people who’ll be working on this some time Thursday April 21st, so you should hear from me before then. I have no idea how many will respond so won't know in advance how selective we'll be (if at all).

 

What Questions Need to Be Answered? Here’s the current research agenda we’ll be working on:

 

  1. Modeling, Quantifying, and Forecasting Impact of Pan-Sarbecovirus Vaccines:
    1. Create informal model of impact of potential future COVID-19 disease burden scenarios in the U.S. and globally (currently led by Eric Mannes with supervision by Witold Wiecek, Rachel Glennerster, and Chris Snyder)
    2. Develop forecasting questions to inform model (currently led by David Manheim and Juan Cambeiro with input from Witold Wiecek and others)
  2. Is Mucosal Immunity a Good Target for an AMC?: Initial lit review here (currently led by Enlli Lewis with supervision by Josh Morrison)
    1. Understand existing research on mucosal immunity for coronavirus (particularly vaccine-induced mucosal immunity for COVID-19)
    2. Contextualize a pan-sarbeco mucosal immunity strategy in past progress and challenges developing intranasal vaccines, prime-and-pull approaches, and other mucosally-targeted strategies for other diseases.
    3. Predict future directions for the field and identify likely timeline and resources needed to develop an intranasal coronavirus vaccine that is likely to reduce transmission.
  3. Understanding Leading Pan-Sarbecovirus Vaccine Candidates (currently unfilled)
    1. Categorize landscape of promising second-generation vaccines roughly by strategy, timeline, likelihood of success, ease of distribution to poorer countries, and investment needed. (CIDRAP list of candidates)
    2. Identify opportunities where immediate push funding (e.g. paying for clinical trials) would substantially accelerate development and generate more information valuable for future vaccine development.
  4. Developing Proposals for Acceleration of Regulatory Authorization Decisions (currently unfilled)
    1. Summarizing current FDA guidance on variant-specific boosters
    2. Research FDA guidance on and  provide 2-3 paragraph summaries for
      1. mucosal vaccines
      2. COVID-19 vaccines that are multivalent
      3. or use a different platform
      4. Suggested sources to start with: StatNews + PharmaIntelligence + Jessica Adams is good Twitter follow / points to important FDA updates
    3. Summary of Warp 1.0’s regulatory components, possibly including interview with Paul Mango
    4. Discussions with product developers about what would be most helpful from a regulatory perspective
    5. Inquiry into pneumococcus precedent and how product characteristics could be developed for pan-sarbecovirus vaccines.
  5. Improving Budgetary Scoring of Pull-Funding(currently unfilled – this CGD paper is a good starting point)
    1. Summarize past pull-funding landscape and prize authorities.
    2. Identify and explain mechanics of analogous budget mechanisms (such as how loans are scored)
    3. Discuss potential approaches with budget experts, including at Center for Global Development and Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
  6. Designing a Federal Warp Speed Department (currently unfilled)
    1. Summarize benefits and drawbacks of various departments a “Warp Speed division” could be put (e.g. BARDA, Department of Defense, White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, or as an independent department under the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response or Assistant Secretary for Health).
    2. Identify precedents where similar departments were created and find relevant statutory language.
  7. Multilateral Options
    1. Summarize how countries collaborated on the pneumococcus AMC and other advanced market commitments. What legal provisions were in place?
    2. Identify international entities that could supervise a global AMC and summarize advantages and disadvantages.
    3. Find past precedent outside of vaccine policy for multilateral financing of a U.S. led project that could serve as a precedent.
  8. Access Provisions/Tech Transfer 
    1. Summarize access provisions included in the pneumococcus AMC
    2. Identify options for conditions that could be attached to an AMC to provide greater vaccine production in low and middle income countries and greater population access for those countries (e.g. compulsory licensing, mandatory tech transfer).

 

Where Can I Learn More?

  • For background on universal coronavirus vaccine development the January and March WHO consultations provide a good sense of the field. Here and here are summaries of the January and March sessions respectively. 
  • For overall background on the Warp 2 project, see this project proposal (linked above), this Day One Memo by Willy Chertman, and this op-ed in City Journal by Willy and me.
  • For background on how to improve budgetary scoring of advanced market commitments, this paper from the Center for Global Development is a good starting point.

 

 

  1. ^

    Technically a pan-sarbecovirus vaccine which targets the sub-genus of betacoronaviruses that caused SARS and COVID

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