HHS has shifted billions of dollars from public health programs to Operation Warp Speed, with $6 billion pulled from the Strategic National Stockpile, Bloomberg reported.
The money transfers were disclosed in a government audit obtained by Bloomberg and show that Operation Warp Speed, the White House’s task force to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, now has a budget of $18 billion, though HHS has routinely cited $10 billion as its budget.
One of the biggest fund transfers happened in August, when HHS pulled $6 billion from the $16.7 billion that had been allocated to the Strategic National Stockpile to replenish stocks of personal protective equipment, ventilators and testing supplies, Bloomberg reported. The transfer came after HHS said it was unable to spend about $1 billion of the money allocated for the stockpile.
A report released Sept. 21 from the Government Accountability Office found that shortages of PPE and other medical supplies persist, despite efforts from the government.
HHS pulled another $700 million from the CDC and put it toward Operation Warp Speed, Bloomberg found. A person familiar with the situation told Bloomberg much of that money likely would’ve gone to states to help respond to COVID-19. CDC Director Robert Redfield, MD, recently told Congress the agency needs an additional $6 billion to help states distribute a vaccine.
HHS told Bloomberg in a statement that the department was using COVID-19 response money provided by Congress to get a vaccine to the American people as soon as possible. The agency declined to provide a full accounting of Operation Warp Speed’s funding sources or commitments.
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