An independent panel of experts was established and assessed the DoD’s acquisition of vaccine production requirements and ongoing programs, management, and acquisition processes against U.S. vaccine industry best practices.1 The panel found that:
Biowarfare and endemic diseases are proven high-consequence threats to military operational effectiveness.
Vaccines are the lowest risk, most effective protection; they enable force projection and are superior to antibiotics or other treatments.
The DoD’s current acquisition of vaccine production approach is insufficient and will fail.
A new approach can make this program work.
The size and scope of DoD vaccine requirements for force protection are exceptionally large. The DoD requires new vaccines to protect against 15 or more biowarfare and endemic diseases. By comparison, vaccines licensed for use in the United States protect against about 20 diseases, and Merck & Co., Inc. manufactures nine licensed vaccines. The size and scope of the DoD program is too large for either the DoD or industry alone. A combined, integrated approach drawing on industry, DoD, and national scientific strengths and assets is essential. The DoD needs to consolidate and integrate its vaccine research, development, and acquisition programs for biowarfare defense and endemic disease protection. Success requires a tailored acquisition model and infusion of technically qualified staff at all levels. A joint program executive officer must have responsibility and authority for the program and report to a designated vaccine acquisition executive who reports to the undersecretary of defense (acquisition, technology and logistics). The DoD vaccine acquisition program should be managed as an Acquisition Category I program and—on an eight-vaccine scale—requires a $3.2 billion research and development program. A government-owned and contractor-operated vaccine production facility is an essential element of the DoD program. The DoD senior leadership must meet with and solicit industry support for its vaccine requirements.