How Operation Warp Speed launched a vaccine race to combat Covid-19 : Planet Money COVID-19 prompted the quickest vaccine development in history. An inside look at how the government and pharmaceutical companies joined forces to make it happen.

Moonshot in the arm

Moonshot in the arm

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Photo of Dr. Robert Kadlec in front of the whiteboard where he wrote "Manhattan Project." Brendan Borrell /https://www.thefirstshots.com/ hide caption

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Brendan Borrell /https://www.thefirstshots.com/

Photo of Dr. Robert Kadlec in front of the whiteboard where he wrote "Manhattan Project."

Brendan Borrell /https://www.thefirstshots.com/

In early 2020, scientists set out to do something that had never been done before. Their mission: to develop an effective and safe COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year. (That's three years faster than a vaccine for a new emerging disease had ever been developed.) Now that we have a few different vaccines, it might seem inevitable that it would happen this way. But there was no guarantee that any of them would work or that they would make it to market.

On today's episode, we look at the story behind the story of Operation Warp Speed and how the COVID-19 vaccines were made in record time.

Reporting from this episode is drawn from the new book, "The First Shots" by Brendan Borrell and published by Mariner Books.

For more on why economics makes creating vaccines so hard, listen to our previous episode" "Where's the vaccine."

Music: "The Soul of Shaolin" and "Say We Go Circular" and "Tarte Tatin" and "Hip Hop Kid Pop"

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