U.S. military personnel won’t administer any COVID-19 vaccines to the American people, but they will provide logistics support, according to a senior health official.
Once the vaccines are approved for use, the military will provide logistics support to ensure that the vaccine is available across the nation, says Paul Mango, deputy chief of staff for policy at the Department of Health and Human Services.
"The overwhelming majority of Americans will get a vaccine that no federal employee, including the Department of Defense, has touched," Mango said during an Oct. 23 teleconference regarding Operation Warp Speed. "That said ... we have the best logisticians in the world at the Department of Defense, working in conjunction with the [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention], to guide ... every logistical detail you could possibly think of."
Operation Warp Speed is the Department of Defense and HHS effort to find a vaccine for COVID-19.
Mango said the DoD would provide logistical support for the likes of needles, syringes, swabs, adhesive bandages, dry ice and trucks.
"Gen. [Gustave F. Perna], and his team ... are guiding all of that with scores of folks from both the CDC and the DOD," Mango added. "We will have an operation center that will tell us at any given time exactly where every dose of vaccine is."
Gen. Perna, the former commander of the Army’s Material Command, is the Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed.
The White House-backed Operation Warp Speed is pushing to have a vaccine ready for distribution in the coming months. The government is spending billions of dollars to manufacture vaccines even before they receive FDA approval, thereby cutting the timeline for delivery.
Officials at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have assured that the program will not interfere with their own science-based decisions. Vaccines that don't meet the test for approval would be discarded.
The U.S. military has been heavily involved in the battle against COVID-19 across America.
Earlier this year, for example, the U.S Navy hospital ship “Comfort” assisted in New York City’s coronavirus relief.
Last month, the Pentagon said in a statement to Fox News that five U.S. military sites have been chosen to participate in Phase III COVID-19 vaccine trials.
Fox News’ Amy McGorry, Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this article. Follow James Rogers on Twitter @jamesjrogers