U.S. Military’s Operation Warp Speed Tracking System (October, 2020)
1) Whitney Webb EXPOSES Operation Warp Speed! What The Mainstream Won’t Whisper! (Oct. 8, 2020)
2) The Ripple Effect Podcast #269 (Ryan Cristián & Whitney Webb | BigTech, Operation Warp Speed & More) (Oct. 12, 2020)
3) #201: Whitney Webb
4) Operation Warp Speed: Depopulate the United States with Covid Vaccine Now Underway
Webmaster’s Comment: Guess what folks? This is gangstalking on steroids…. How do you get to be in one of the vaccine priority groups? Probably by being retired, Black, Hispanic, a whistleblower, dissident, Christian, and Constitutionalist….. In other words, this is just the new face of the bogus watchlisting-targeting of domestic enemies (TI’s) now being fast-tracked to elimination. Formerly, it was the “War on Terrorism” that provided the excuse for the government to purge those it considers undesirable. Now it is Covid-19.
Operation Warp Speed is a military operation, they are partnering with Google and Oracle to track the recipients of the covid vaccine. This is exactly what we have been warning you of! Be sure to read this article in full! It is imperative we know what is coming!
If you love the show and want to support our work find us on Patreon
1. Google & Oracle To Monitor Americans Who Get Warp Speed’s Covid-19 Vaccine For Up To Two Years
Posted on October 15, 2020 AuthorWhitney WebbComments(6)
Moncef Slaoui, the official head of Operation Warp Speed, told the Wall Street Journal last week that all Warp Speed vaccine recipients in the US will be monitored by “incredibly precise . . . tracking systems” for up to two years and that tech giants Google and Oracle would be involved.
Last week, a rare media interview given by the Trump administration’s “Vaccine Czar” offered a brief glimpse into the inner workings of the extremely secretive Operation Warp Speed (OWS), the Trump administration’s “public-private partnership” for delivering a Covid-19 vaccine to 300 million Americans by next January. What was revealed should deeply unsettle all Americans.
During an interview with the Wall Street Journal published last Friday, the “captain” of Operation Warp Speed, career Big Pharma executive Moncef Slaoui, confirmed that the millions of Americans who are set to receive the project’s Covid-19 vaccine will be monitored via “incredibly precise . . . tracking systems” that will “ensure that patients each get two doses of the same vaccine and to monitor them for adverse health effects.” Slaoui also noted that tech giants Google and Oracle have been contracted as part of this “tracking system” but did not specify their exact roles beyond helping to “collect and track vaccine data.”
The day before the Wall Street Journal interview was published, the New York Times published a separate interview with Slaoui where he referred to this “tracking system” as a “very active pharmacovigilance surveillance system.” During a previous interview with the journal Science in early September, Slaoui had referred to this system only as “a very active pharmacovigilance system” that would “make sure that when the vaccines are introduced that we’ll absolutely continue to assess their safety.” Slaoui has only recently tacked on the words “tracking” and “surveillance” to his description of this system during his relatively rare media interviews.
While Slaoui himself was short on specifics regarding this “pharmacovigilance surveillance system,” the few official documents from Operation Warp Speed that have been publicly released offer some details about what this system may look like and how long it is expected to “track” the vital signs and whereabouts of Americans who receive a Warp Speed vaccine.
Two official OWS documents released in mid-September state that vaccine recipients—expected to include a majority of the US population—would be monitored for twenty-four months after the first dose of a Covid-19 vaccine is administered and that this would be done by a “pharmacovigilance system.”
In the OWS document entitled “From the Factory to the Frontlines,” the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Department of Defense (DOD) stated that, because Warp Speed vaccine candidates use new unlicensed vaccine production methods that “have limited previous data on safety in humans . . . the long-term safety of these vaccines will be carefully assessed using pharmacovigilance surveillance and Phase 4 (post-licensure) clinical trials.”
The key objective of pharmacovigilance is to determine each vaccine’s performance in real-life scenarios, to study efficacy, and to discover any infrequent and rare side effects not identified in clinical trials. OWS will also use pharmacovigilance analytics, which serves as one of the instruments for the continuous monitoring of pharmacovigilance data. Robust analytical tools will be used to leverage large amounts of data and the benefits of using such data across the value chain, including regulatory obligations.
In addition, Moncef Slaoui and OWS’s vaccine coordinator, Matt Hepburn, formerly a program manager at the Pentagon’s controversial Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), had previously published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine that stated that “because some technologies have limited previous data on safety in humans, the long-term safety of these vaccines will be carefully assessed using pharmacovigilance surveillance strategies.”
The use of pharmacovigilance on those who receive the vaccine is also mentioned in the official Warp Speed “infographic,” which states that monitoring will be done in cooperation with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Protection (CDC) and will involve “24 month post-trial monitoring for adverse effects.”
In a separate part of that same document, OWS describes one of its “four key tenets” as “traceability,” which has three goals: to “confirm which of the approved vaccines were administered regardless of location (private/public)”; to send a “reminder to return for second dose”; and to “administer the correct second dose.”
Regarding a Covid-19 vaccine requiring more than one dose, a CDC document associated with Operation Warp Speed states:
For most Covid-19 vaccine products, two doses of vaccine, separated by 21 or 28 days, will be needed. Because different Covid-19 vaccine products will not be interchangeable, a vaccine recipient’s second dose must be from the same manufacturer as their first dose. Second-dose reminders for vaccine recipients will be critical to ensure compliance with vaccine dosing intervals and achieve optimal vaccine effectiveness.
The CDC document also references a document published in August by the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, associated with the Event 201 and Dark Winter simulations, as informing its Covid-19 vaccination strategy. The Johns Hopkins paper, which counts Dark Winter co-organizer Thomas Inglesby as one of its authors, argues that existing “passive reporting” systems managed by the CDC and FDA should be retooled to create “an active safety surveillance system directed by the CDC that monitors all [Covid-19] vaccine recipients—perhaps by short message service or other electronic mechanisms.”
Despite the claims in these documents that the “pharmacovigilance surveillance system” would intimately involve the FDA, top FDA officials stated in September that they were barred from attending OWS meetings and told reporters they could not explain the operation’s organization or when or with what frequency its leadership meets. The FDA officials did state, however, that they “are still allowed to interact with companies developing products for OWS,” STAT news reported.
In addition, the FDA has apparently “set up a firewall between the vast majority of staff and the initiative [Operation Warp Speed]” that appears to drastically limit the number of FDA officials with any knowledge of or involvement in Warp Speed. The FDA’s director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, Janet Woodcock, is the only FDA official listed as having any direct involvement in OWS and appears to be personally managing this “firewall” at the FDA. Woodcock describes herself as a long-time advocate for the use of “big data” in the evaluation of drug and vaccine safety and has been intimately involved in FDA precursors to the coming Warp Speed “pharmacovigilance surveillance system” known as Sentinel and PRISM, both of which are discussed later in this report.
Woodcock is currently on a temporary leave of absence from her role as the director of the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, which allows her to focus her complete attention on overseeing aspects of Operation Warp Speed on behalf of the FDA’s Office of the Commissioner. Her temporary replacement at the FDA, Patrizia Cavazzoni, is “very aligned with Janet and where the agency is going,” according to media reports. Cavazzoni is a former executive at Pfizer, one of the companies producing a vaccine for OWS. That vaccine is set to begin testing in children as young as 12 years old.
The extreme secrecy of Operation Warp Speed has affected not only the FDA but also the CDC, as a CDC expert panel normally involved in developing the government’s vaccine distribution strategies was “stonewalled” by Matt Hepburn, OWS’s vaccine coordinator, who bluntly refused to answer several of the panel’s “pointed questions” about the highly secretive operation.
More Secret Contracts
While Moncef Slaoui and Warp Speed documents provide few details regarding what this “tracking system” would entail, Slaoui did note in his recent interview with the Wall Street Journal that tech giants Google and Oracle had been contracted to “collect and track vaccine data” as part of this system. Neither Google nor Oracle, however, has announced receipt of a contract related to Operation Warp Speed, and the DOD and HHS, similarly, have yet to announce the awarding of any Warp Speed contract to either Google or Oracle. In addition, searches on the US government’s Federal Register and on the official website for federally awarded contracts came up empty for any contract awarded to Google or Oracle that would apply to any such “pharmacovigilance” system or any other aspect of Operation Warp Speed.
Given my previous reporting on the use of a nongovernment intermediary for awarding OWS contracts to vaccine companies, it seems likely that Warp Speed contracts awarded to Google and Oracle were made using a similar mechanism. In an October 6, 2020, report for The Last American Vagabond, I noted that $6 billion in Warp Speed contracts awarded to vaccine companies were made through Advanced Technology International (ATI), a government contractor that works mainly with the military and surveillance technology companies and whose parent company has strong ties to the CIA and the 2001 Dark Winter simulation. HHS, which is supposedly overseeing Operation Warp Speed, claimed to have “no record” of at least one of those contracts. Only one Warp Speed vaccine contract, which did not involve ATI and was awarded directly by HHS’s Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, was recently obtained by KEI Online. Major parts of the contract, however, including the section on intellectual property rights, were redacted in their entirety.
If the Warp Speed contracts that have been awarded to Google and Oracle are anything like the Warp Speed contracts awarded to most of its participating vaccine companies, then those contracts grant those companies diminished federal oversight and exemptions from federal laws and regulations designed to protect taxpayer interests in the pursuit of the work stipulated in the contract. It also makes them essentially immune to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests. Yet, in contrast to the unacknowledged Google and Oracle contracts, vaccine companies have publicly disclosed that they received OWS contracts, just not the terms or details of those contracts. This suggests that the Google and Oracle contracts are even more secretive.
A major conflict of interest worth noting is Google’s ownership of YouTube, which recently banned on its massive multimedia platform all “misinformation” related to concerns about a future Covid-19 vaccine. With Google now formally part of Operation Warp Speed, it seems likely that any concerns about OWS’s extreme secrecy and the conflicts of interest of many of its members (particularly Moncef Slaoui and Matt Hepburn) as well as any concerns about Warp Speed vaccine safety, allocation and/or distribution may be labeled “Covid-19 vaccine misinformation” and removed from YouTube.
From the NSA to the FDA: The New PRISM
Though the nature of this coming surveillance system for Covid-19 vaccine recipients has yet to be fully detailed by Warp Speed or the tech companies the operation has contracted, OWS documents and existing infrastructure at the FDA offer a clue as to what this system could entail.
For instance, the Warp Speed document “From the Factory to the Frontlines” notes that the pharmacovigilance system will be a new system created exclusively for OWS that will be “buil[t] off of existing IT [information technology] infrastructure” and will fill any “gaps with new IT solutions.” It then notes that “the Covid-19 vaccination program requires significant enhancement of the IT that will support enhancements and data exchange that are critical for a multi-dose candidate to ensure proper administration of a potential second dose.” The document also states that all data related to the OWS vaccine distribution effort “will be reported into a common IT infrastructure that will support analysis and reporting,” adding that this “IT infrastructure will support partners with a broad range of tools for record-keeping, data on who is being vaccinated, and reminders for second doses.”
Though some Warp Speed documents hint as to the existing IT systems that will serve as the foundation for this new tracking system, arguably the most likely candidate is the FDA-managed Sentinel Initiative, which was established in 2009 during the H1N1 Swine flu pandemic. Like Operation Warp Speed itself, Sentinel is a public-private partnership and involves the FDA, private business, and academia.
According to its website, Sentinel’s “main goal is to improve how FDA evaluates the safety and performance of medical products” through big data, with an additional focus on “learning more about potential side effects.” Media reports describe Sentinel as “an electronic surveillance system that aggregates data from electronic medical records, claims and registries that voluntarily participate and allows the agency to track the safety of marketed drugs, biologics and medical devices.”
One of Sentinel’s main proponent at the FDA is Janet Woodcock, who has aggressively worked to expand the program as director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, with a focus on Sentinel’s use in “post-market effectiveness studies.” As previously mentioned, Woodcock is the only FDA official listed among the ninety or so “leaders” of OWS, most of whom are part of the US military and lack any health-care or vaccine-production experience.
Woodcock’s temporary replacement at the FDA, Patrizia Cavazzoni, is also very active in efforts to expand Sentinel. STAT news reported earlier this year that Cavazzoni previously “served on the sterling committee of I-MEDS, an FDA-industry partnership which allows drug makers to pay for use of the FDA’s real-world data system known as Sentinel to complete certain safety studies more quickly.”
Sentinel has a series of “collaborating partners” that “provide healthcare data and scientific, technical, and organizational expertise” to the initiative. These collaborating partners include intelligence contractor Booz Allen Hamilton, tech giant IBM, and major US health insurance companies such as Aetna and Blue Cross Blue Shield, among many others. In addition, Sentinel’s Innovation Center, which it describes as the program’s “test bed to identify, develop, and evaluate innovative methods,” is partnered with Amazon, General Dynamics, and Microsoft. Sentinel also has a Community Building and Outreach Center, which is managed by Deloitte consulting, one of the largest consultancy firms in the world that is known for seeking to fill its ranks with former CIA officials.
The Sentinel system’s specific surveillance program aimed at monitoring vaccine effectiveness is known as the Post-licensure Rapid Immunization Safety Monitoring Program, better known as PRISM. Sentinel’s PRISM was “developed to monitor vaccine safety, but [to date] has never been used to assess vaccine effectiveness.” PRISM was initially launched alongside the Sentinel Initiative itself in 2009 “in response to the need to monitor the safety of the H1N1 influenza vaccine” after it was licensed, marketed, and administered. Yet, as previously mentioned, PRISM has yet to be used to assess the effectiveness of any vaccine while quietly expanding for nearly a decade, which implies that the stakeholders in the Sentinel Initiative have a plan to implement this “safety surveillance system” at some point.
The name PRISM may remind readers of the National Security Agency (NSA) program of the same name that became well known throughout the United States following the Edward Snowden revelations. Given this association, it is worth noting that the NSA, as well as the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), are now officially part of Operation Warp Speed and appear to be playing a role in the development of Warp Speed’s “pharmacovigilance surveillance system.” The addition of the NSA and the DHS to the initiative, of course, greatly increases the involvement of US intelligence agencies in the operation, which itself is “dominated” by the military and sorely lacking in civilian public health officials.
CyberScoop first reported in early September that members of the NSA’s Cybersecurity Directorate were involved in Operation Warp Speed, with their role—as well as that of DHS—being framed mainly as offering “cybersecurity advice” to the initiative. However, the NSA and DHS are also offering “guidance” and “services” to both the other federal agencies involved in Warp Speed as well as OWS contractors, which now include Google and Oracle.
Google is well known for its cozy relationship with the NSA, including its PRISM program, and they have also backed NSA-supported legislation that would make it easier to surveil Americans without a warrant. Similarly, Oracle is a longtime NSA contractor and also has ties to the CIA dating back to its earliest days as a company, not unlike Google. Notably, Oracle and Google remain locked in a major legal battle over copyright issues that is set to be heard by the Supreme Court in the coming weeks and is expected to have major ramifications for the tech industry.
The Public Health Panopticon
In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the US military attempted to institute a surveillance program so invasive that Congress defunded it just months after its creation due to public outrage. Known as Total Information Awareness (TIA), the program sought to develop an all-seeing surveillance apparatus managed by the Pentagon’s DARPA and officially argued that invasive surveillance of the entire US population was necessary to prevent terrorist attacks, bioterrorism events, and even naturally occurring disease outbreaks before they could take place.
Before it was disbanded, TIA sought to collect Americans’ medical records; fingerprints; gait, facial, and iris biometric data; drug prescriptions; and even DNA in addition to citizens’ financial, travel, and media-consumption habits. TIA, not unlike Operation Warp Speed, was a “public-private partnership” managed by the DOD and partnered with the NSA, the CIA, and other intelligence agencies as well as the private sector and academia.
Also like Warp Speed, TIA officially justified its invasive surveillance goals by claiming that its initiatives would rescue Americans from the “invisible enemy” of faceless terrorists abroad and ensure citizens’ safety, security, and health. Today, Warp Speed officially takes aim at a new type of “invisible enemy”—a microbe invisible to the naked human eye.
In the years after 9/11, the public pushback against TIA was fierce. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) claimed at the time that the surveillance effort would “kill privacy in America” because “every aspect of our lives would be catalogued,” while mainstream media outlets warned that TIA was “fighting terror by terrifying U.S. citizens.” Despite Congress officially defunding the program, it later emerged that TIA was never actually shut down, with its various programs having been covertly divided among the web of military and intelligence agencies that comprise the US national security state.
Unlike in years past, TIA’s apparent successor, Operation Warp Speed, has received no pushback from mainstream media outlets or advocacy organizations, with many of these same entities now placing blind faith in the secretive initiative and lionizing it as the “only way” to resolve the Covid-19 pandemic crisis.
The national security state has carefully learned from and studied its past failures, while many Americans, in contrast, continue to place their trust in the very agencies and government entities that have lied the country into multiple wars, tortured and maimed countless civilians abroad, produced a series of failed states in order to plunder their resources, and are currently facilitating the pillaging of the American economy by Wall Street and the Federal Reserve under the guise of “relief.”
Allowing these same entities to surveil and track a majority of Americans and to use the country’s population as guinea pigs for unlicensed, understudied, and experimental vaccine technologies is a clear recipe for disaster. At the same time, it would also enable a surveillance panopticon so dystopian and far reaching that Americans stand to lose not only their few remaining civil liberties but even sovereignty over their own bodies.
The total-surveillance agenda that began with TIA and that has been resurrected through Warp Speed predated Covid-19 by decades. Its architects and proponents have worked to justify these extreme and invasive surveillance programs by marketing this agenda as the “solution” to whatever Americans are most afraid of at any given time. It has very little to do with “public health” and everything to do with total control.
2. U.S. Government Awards Contracts To Seven Organizations With Ties To Gates Foundation, DARPA, Big Tech
Posted on October 13, 2020 AuthorDerrick BrozeComments(4)
The National Institutes of Health has awarded contracts to seven organizations working on digital health solutions for COVID-19 involving smartphones and wearable “biosensors” – so who are these companies?
On September 15, the National Institutes of Health announced that they had awarded contracts to seven companies developing digital health solutions for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The National Cancer Institute (NCI) and the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), part of the NIH, selected the seven projects put forth by the organizations. The contracts are worth up to $22.8 million and will focus on using artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and other methods, combined with smartphone apps, wearable devices, and software “that can identify and trace contacts of infected individuals, keep track of verified COVID-19 test results, and monitor the health status of infected and potentially infected individuals.” These organizations include:
iCrypto, Inc. (Santa Clara, California)
Shee Atiká Enterprises, LLC (Sitka, Alaska)
University of California, San Francisco
physIQ, Inc. (Chicago)
Vibrent Health (Fairfax, Virginia)
IBM (Armonk, New York)
Evidation Health, Inc. (San Mateo, California)
The NIH also noted that another company, CareEvolution, LLC (Ann Arbor, Michigan), was awarded a contract by the NIBIB.
NIBIB Director Bruce J. Tromberg, Ph.D., stated that digital health technologies built around smartphones and wearable devices will help guide the public through the COVID-19 pandemic by gathering and analyzing large amounts of data from many different sources.
“When this information is analyzed using cutting-edge computational and machine learning methods, everyone will have access to powerful new tools for reducing the risk of infection and returning to normal activities,” Tromberg said.
The news of the NIH contracts provoked few media reports about the latest development in the fight against COVID-19. However, there was no scrutiny of the companies themselves. This piece is a brief examination of the connections between the companies pushing smartphone apps and wearable technologies, and the individuals and institutions who stand to benefit from the advancement of this biosecurity focused, technocratic reality. A study of these organizations reveals connections to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Apple, and Google.
Let’s start with the organization of which we know the least about – iCrypto, Inc. The NIH awarded digital firm iCrypto, Inc. a contract for “developing a smartphone-based platform to provide proof of testing, serologic, and vaccination status.” Beyond that single line there are not many details available regarding the “smartphone-based platform” iCrypto is commissioned to build.
The company’s LinkedIn page says iCrypto provides “a scalable, customizable, SaaS solution with capabilities including amongst others Mobile-Centric ID Aggregation, strong Mobile-Centric (biometric) Authentication across the organization, Verifications, Authorizations, and Attestations (immutable audit trails), thus assisting with all-around accountability, governance & audit compliance, non-repudiation, increased productivity and profitability.”
ICrypto’s website describes itself as a “Trust and Digital ID / Attestation platform that enables businesses to transact faster (minimize friction) with increased trust, accountability and profitability.” Beyond this brief description and a mention of 3 employees, the website is barren and offers little details on the companies history.
Similarly, the twitter account for iCrypto has only 2 tweets from 2018. A list of press releases from the company make no mention of the NIH contract, but one press release from 2019 states that iCrypto has an “extensive offering that encompasses multiple authentication factors such as fingerprint scans, photographs, facial recognition, user behaviour, and PINs, iCrypto is the most comprehensive solution of its kind in the market today.”
Further investigations are needed to come to arrive at a fuller understanding of iCrypto’s “smartphone based platform” and how it will interact with the population.
CareEvolution received a contract for their tool SAFER-COVID, which they describe as “a digital health solution that integrates self-reported symptoms, data from consumer wearable devices, electronic health record and claims data, and COVID-19 test results to indicate whether users are ready to return to work and normal activities during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
CareEvolution says that the SAFER-COVID self-assessment tool “helps you make decisions about when, if, and how to safely return to regular daily activities such as work and other social interactions.” The tool is designed to use available research from the CDC, NIH, and other organizations to give the user “guidance” on what they can do “to be more confident that you are not infectious to others.”
CareEvolution has yet to provide specifics on what type of wearable devices they are gathering data from, but the use of wearable devices is a central component to the NIH contracts.
Shee Atiká Enterprises, LLC
Shee Atiká Enterprises is tasked with “developing a smartphone-based platform aimed at supporting individuals in low-resource settings with a Bluetooth-enabled thermometer and pulse oximeter.” Shee Atiká is specifically focused on a platform to “monitor and support individuals with COVID-19 symptoms (who may need testing) and those who have already tested positive.”
The company says their app will integrate a Bluetooth-enabled thermometer and pulse oximeter into an approach “uniquely designed for low-resource settings and underserved populations.” How the technology will function and how exactly it is suited for “underserved populations” is not explained.
Once again, there is not much information about the company itself or the nature of the technology being designed by Shee Atiká Enterprises and their parent company Shee Atiká Incorporated.
However, we do know that Shee Atiká Incorporated is also the parent company of INDHA Health Solutions, an Alaskan company that specializes in creating healthcare solutions for clients to improve healthcare management. INDHA says it “turns biometric patient information into usable knowledge for participants, employers and healthcare providers.” This is done by smart devices and wearables which are currently used to detect blood sugar and blood pressure.
According to Alaska Northstar Resources, LLC, another one of Shee Atiká’s subsidiaries, Shee Atiká, Inc., and its subsidiaries, have performed close to $1 billion in U.S. government contracts. With this history of government contracts it should be no surprise that the relatively unknown company has been chosen to create the next wave of digital health tools aimed at tracking those who may have COVID-19.
We should also noted that Shee Atiká and private military contractors TigerSwan were both implicated in a scheme involving disgraced international corporation DynCorp.
University of California, San Francisco
The NIH granted the University of California, San Francisco a contract to investigate a GPS-based “retroactive contact-tracing tool for COVID-19.” Researchers with UC San Francisco have been actively developing contact tracing technology in response to COVID-19. Contact tracing is a process of identifying individuals who may have come into contact with an infected person, collecting information about their contacts, and then tracing the contacts of infected individuals. All persons who may have come into contact with an infected individual are tested for infection, treated for the infection, and their contacts traced as well.
The NIH contract is the latest step in UCSF efforts to create a contact tracing tool that not only tracks an individual’s current and future movements, but looks to “recreate people’s movements.”
In September, UCSF researchers invited the public to share their location data – which is collected by Google – via their smartphones and mobile devices. The data sharing and monitoring is part of a new study called Covidseeker, ostensibly aimed at improving contact tracing efforts and helping scientists understand how the coronavirus is spreading from person to person.
“The UCSF project takes a different approach from the one that Google and Apple are using in their contact tracing apps,” the university wrote. “Those apps use Bluetooth beacons to detect phones that are nearby in real time, sending alerts whenever users come near someone who reported having tested positive. By contrast, Covidseeker looks back in time. With enough participants, it may be able to recreate people’s movements when infection rates were rising and falling in the spring and summer of 2020.”
The grant from the NIH is not unusual given that two organizations have a longstanding relationship. For example, in 2019, for the 13th year in a row, UCSF claimed the top spot among public institutions in funding from the NIH. “The NIH has been behind many of the biggest breakthroughs that UCSF scientists have made over the decades,” UCSF wrote.
On September 30, UC San Francisco students, faculty and staff began participating in a trial of the COVID Notify software. They were invited to activate COVID Notify on their smartphones to be the first Californians to test the tool as part of a limited pilot. California lawmakers are hoping to use the tool to learn how best to reopen their state. The technology powering COVID Notify was developed by Google and Apple. The developers claim the software is anonymized and does not use GPS and never collects, stores, or transmits personal information and location data.
UC San Francisco has also briefly received funds the Gates Foundation for malaria and “global health drugs”.
The digital medicine company Physiq Inc. has received a contract from the NIH to “develop an artificial intelligence (AI)-based index that can provide an early warning that a patient with COVID-19 is in decline and needs medical treatment.”
The NIH is asking Physiq to use their COVID-19 Decompensation Index (CDI) Digital Biomarker, which is described as a personalized AI-based algorithm that will run on Physiq’s existing AccelerateIQ computing platform. The company markets their AccelerateIQ platform as an effective tool for collecting and organizing data from wearable biosensors. Their platform works with a chest-worn disposable sensor patch product called VitalPatch from Vital Connect, Inc.
PhysIQ describes their work as “applying artificial intelligence to wearable sensor data” using the only FDA-cleared “personalized analytics platform” designed to process multiple vital signs from wearable sensors to create a “personalized dynamic baseline” for each individual. Essentially, they aim to map your vital signs while you are healthy and use their analytics platform to detect “subtle deviations” that could be the early warning signs of disease or other changes in health.
In May, PhysIQ partnered with the U.S. Department of Defense, and The Henry M. Jackson Foundation on an initiative to use physIQ’s platform to collect and analyze wearable sensor data to better understand the pathophysiology of COVID-19. This project called for “continuous monitoring” of COVID-19 patients using a wearable biosensor in an attempt to predict disease progression and early signs of infection. The plan is to send the platform to “individuals associated with military hospitals in the U.S., as well as across sites in Southeast Asia.”
The NIH awarded Vibrent Health a $4.23 million contract on the promise of developing “mobile applications, data integrations, and validated machine learning algorithms to identify COVID-19 and differentiate it from influenza, and to perform contact tracing using Wi-Fi technologies.”
Praduman Jain, Founder and CEO of Vibrent Health, noted that his company was working on “Wi-Fi-enabled contact tracing” using smartphones and wearable devices to “assist society with the return to normalcy.” Jain and Vibrent Health believe this method of using wi-fi enabled contract tracing could “identify outbreaks” and “advise actions to protect individuals from COVID-19 exposure.” Vibrent will do so by “expanding” and “enhancing” its Digital Health Solutions Platform. The platform allows researchers to “rapidly deploy standardized measures from survey systems they use for everyday research into their own research programs.”
Vibrent claims their technology will be able to differentiate COVID-19 from the Flu, as well as inform users if they should seek medical attention.
In June, Vibrent announced they had developed a “rapid deployment solution” for a COVID-19 survey. Vibrent Health currently serves as the Participant Technology Systems Center for NIH’s All of Us Research Program. Vibrent responded to the program’s need to gather data by rapidly developing and deploying a COvid-19 Participant Experience (COPE) Survey. The survey asked more than 325,000 participants to share their social distancing experiences, COVID-19 symptoms, COVID-19 testing, mood, stress, loneliness, discrimination, anxiety and other aspects of physical and mental health.
IBM has been contracted to test an “integrated solution to support contact tracing and verifiable health status reporting.” There are currently no further details on the specifics of this project, but IBM has been heavily involved in the effort to use digital technology as a method for combating COVID-19.
IBM recently announced it was partnering with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Department of Energy to use supercomputers to launch the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, which is reported to be “an unprecedented amount of computing power—16 systems with more than 330 petaflops, 775,000 CPU cores, 34,000 GPUs, and counting.”
IBM has also been offering artificial intelligence powered technology and an AI assistant to answer citizens’ questions.
Of course, supercomputing and AI are nothing new for one of the world’s oldest computer technology and consulting firm. More than a decade ago, IBM was working on a computer system that stimulates and emulates the brain’s abilities for sensation, perception, and cognition. IBM claimed they had made advances in simulating the behavior of the cerebral cortex and created an algorithm that could “synthesize” neurological data.
In 2017, IBM announced they were partnering with the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) on a “first-of-a-kind brain-inspired supercomputing system powered by a 64-chip array of the IBM TrueNorth Neurosynaptic System.” The platform was designed to “enable deep neural-network learning and information discovery.” IBM said the systems pattern recognition and sensory processing power is equivalent of 64 million neurons and 16 billion synapses while only consuming 10 watts of power.
The IBM TrueNorth Neurosynaptic System was originally developed under the auspices of Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s (DARPA) Systems of Neuromorphic Adaptive Plastic Scalable Electronics (SyNAPSE) program in collaboration with Cornell University.
Whitney Webb has reported extensively on DARPA’s dark agenda and how it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Evidation Health, Inc.
Evidation Health is tasked with “investigating a health measurement platform to analyze self-reported and wearable device data to both detect COVID-19 and differentiate it from influenza.” Evidation has a history of working with smart devices and other wearable technology.
The U.S. Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) and the Gates Foundation also recently backed Evidation for the purpose of developing a “COVID-19 detection algorithm.” Evidation is to work with 4YouandMe – a nonprofit that helps individuals share their health data for medical research – to collect self-reported and wearable-collected data from 300 participants.
Evidation previously partnered with pharmaceutical giant Eli Lilly and Apple on research into whether consumer gadgets like smartwatches and sleep trackers could be used to spot early signs of dementia. The man behind the research, Dr. Andrew Trister, was hired by the Gates Foundation in 2019.
In August 2018, Evidation launched a data platform that could reportedly process data from more than 100 sources ranging from Apple Health to Fitbit, Epic, Blue Button, and Dexcom. Evidation stated that the platform can analyze individual behavior and health in real time.
Evidation also has a history of collaborating with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the U.S. government. In May, the Gates Foundation invested in Evidation to develop a “digital biomarker of COVID-19 and understand an individual’s susceptibility to infection and cascading effects of disease.”
The reason I make note of the investments from the Gates Foundations is because of the mammoth influence that Bill Gates and his Foundation have on international health organizations and the policies they propose. In part 2 of my investigation into Gates, I detailed how the Gates Foundation is connected to nearly every U.S. institution involved in the fight against COVID-19, as well as international organizations and governments. From the World Health Organization to universities and private companies, Bill Gates is able to shape the direction of health policy.
Exposing Operation Warp Speed
The NIH contracts are part of a broader effort by the U.S. government to combat COVID-19 and expand the biosecurity state. In addition to the eight companies mentioned here, there are also efforts for immunity passports and contract tracing apps. These include the CommonPass, a project with support from the World Economic Forum; CovidCheck, an app with backing from the CDC and the Clinton Health Initiative; and CommonHealth, another contact tracing app developed with help from UCSF and the Rockefeller Foundation.
These contracts are also one aspect of Operation Warp Speed, the public-private partnership launched by the Trump administration to rapidly develop and distribute a Covid-19 vaccine. The Trump admin has previously promised to deliver 100 million doses by October 2020, 200 million by December, and 300 million doses by January. As Whitney Webb has recently shown, the Trump administration is awarding contracts to vaccine manufacturers in a way that allows the agreements to remain hidden from the public.
An organizational chart for OWS dated July 30, 2020 includes the names of several organizations involved in the recent NIH contracts. U.S. government officials from the NIH, BARDA, and Health & Human Services are involved in the contracts and OWS. As I have previously written, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the head of OWS, is the epitome of a Big Pharma lobbyist.
Following his education, Slaoui joined the pharmaceutical industry, serving on the board of Directors of GlaxoSmithKline between 2006 through 2015. Slaoui served in several senior research & development (R&D) roles with GlaxoSmithKline during his time with the company, including Chairman of Global Vaccines. GSK has a history of working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on projects such as the development of a malaria vaccine and anti-HIV compounds used as microbicides. In fact, Dr. Slaoui worked for 27 years on the malaria vaccine, ultimately partnering with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to develop a $600 million malaria vaccine. When Slaoui took over at GSK, his predecessor, Tachi Yamada, joined the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation.
More recently, Slaoui sits on the boards of pharmaceutical companies and biotechnology organizations. He is also partner at MediciX investment firm, chairman of the board at Galvani Bioelectronics, chairman of the board at SutroVax and sits on the boards of Artisan Biosciences, Human Vaccines Project and Moderna Therapeutics. Each of these companies is involved in vaccine development and the emerging field of bioelectronics.
In the next part of the #ExposeWarpSpeed investigation we will explore the role of Moncef Slaoui as Chief Advisor of Operation Warp Speed and his history of involvement in bioelectronics and implantable devices. We will also show how the Gates Foundation is funding “vaccine patches” in the United States and Australia as part of the COVID-19 recovery.
3. OPERATION WARP SPEED IS USING A CIA-LINKED CONTRACTOR TO KEEP COVID-19 VACCINE CONTRACTS SECRET
Published: October 6, 2020
The Trump administration has compared Operation Warp Speed’s crash program to develop a COVID-19 vaccine to the Manhattan Project. And like the notoriously secretive government project to make the first atomic bomb, the details of Operation Warp Speed’s work may take a long time to unravel.
One reason is that Operation Warp Speed is issuing billions of dollars’ worth of coronavirus vaccine contracts to companies through a nongovernment intermediary, bypassing the regulatory oversight and transparency of traditional federal contracting mechanisms, NPR has learned.
Instead of entering into contracts directly with vaccine makers, more than $6 billion in Operation Warp Speed funding has been routed through a defense contract management firm called Advanced Technologies International, Inc. ATI then awarded contracts to companies working on COVID-19 vaccines.
As a result, the contracts between the pharmaceutical companies and ATI may not be available through public records requests, and additional documents are exempt from public disclosure for five years.
Vaccine contracts awarded this way include $1.6 billion for Novavax, $1.95 billion for Pfizer, $1.79 billion for Sanofi and $1 billion for Johnson & Johnson.
NPR first looked into Operation Warp Speed’s approach when our request for one of the contracts under the federal Freedom of Information Act came up empty.
A senior administration official tells NPR the government chose to use the intermediary for Operation Warp Speed contracts “to take advantage of certain acquisition authorities provided by Congress that are available to address situations like the coronavirus pandemic.”
Generally, these kinds of agreements allow the government to be more nimble.
Simplifying government bureaucracy during a crisis isn’t necessarily a bad thing, says Robin Feldman, a professor at the University of California Hastings College of the Law, who focuses on the pharmaceutical industry and drug policy. But there’s a tradeoff when it comes to accountability. “We have to be careful about what we throw out in that process,” she says.
Throwing out the contracting bible
Most government contracts are governed by a set of rules called the Federal Acquisition Regulation, or FAR.
“It’s really a bible that the government and contractors are supposed to follow with respect to a given acquisition,” says attorney Franklin Turner, a partner at McCarter and English, who has been involved with thousands of government contracts in his career. “It is supposed to establish the process from soup to nuts, right from the beginning to the very end of a procurement.”
The acquisition regulations contain everything Congress stipulates should “govern the expenditure of taxpayer dollars,” from anti-human-trafficking clauses to ethics and company conduct requirements, Turner says. But the resulting process can be time-consuming. Sometimes, it can stretch for years, especially if competitive bidding is involved or a losing company challenges an award through a formal protest process.
So, in special cases, the government has been turning to an alternative mechanism, called an Other Transaction Agreement, or OTA. These agreements got their start in the late 1950s, when NASA was created. The goal was to streamline the contracting process and attract newer, smaller companies and inventors to work with the government that otherwise might not have the resources or willingness to do so.
“I don’t think that they operate to relieve liability,” Turner says. “They operate, if anything, to streamline the process for a variety of reasons, depending on the acquisition at issue.”
But there can be a downside to these agreements.
“A number of analysts warn that along with the potential benefits come significant risks, including potentially diminished oversight and exemption from laws and regulations designed to protect government and taxpayer interests,” the Congressional Research Service wrote in a 2019 report about the rising use of OTAs by the Department of Defense. The report also noted that it was unclear whether OTAs are faster than traditional government contracts, because the Department of Defense hasn’t tracked that information.
Kathryn Ardizzone, a lawyer at Knowledge Ecology International, examined a handful of early Operation Warp Speed research and development contracts obtained through public records requests to HHS that didn’t go through an intermediary. KEI is a nonprofit group that focuses on intellectual property policy.
Many were OTAs that weakened or excluded Bayh-Dole clauses, which, among other things, allow the government to “march in” and take control of a drug or vaccine if a manufacturer that received federal funding engages in price gouging, for example.
Ardizzone and NPR have both, separately, tried to get copies of the later (and larger) procurement contracts through public records requests and so far have been unsuccessful. We requested contracts between the federal government and the pharmaceutical companies — not the intermediary, Advanced Technology International.
In response to NPR’s request, HHS said it had “no records” for the $1.6 billion contract with Novavax, indicating that the department leading the way on Operation Warp Speed doesn’t have a copy of the contract. NPR has since made the same request of the Department of Defense and is awaiting the response.
“It’s not clear that using the Freedom of Information Act, we can access agreements that are maintained by a private entity,” Ardizzone says. In that case, we don’t know what taxpayer protections the contracts may have left out.
“The stakes are as high as you could ever imagine,” Ardizzone says. If the government doesn’t have a copy of these records, something she called “shocking but not impossible,” it would “add a layer of complexity” to whether the contracts can be disclosed under a public records request.
Repurposing a Defense Department consortium
Advance Technology International manages contracts and facilitates dealings with the government for several consortia of academics, companies and more, using OTAs.
In March and early April, the Department of Defense talked with ATI about a consortium of academics and companies that it manages called the Medical CBRN Defense Consortium, which is tasked with developing medical countermeasures to threats against the military. The Department of Defense, a partner in Operation Warp Speed, already had an overarching OTA with ATI concerning this group. To expand it for the COVID-19 response was a matter of adding more money and issuing a request for proposals concerning coronavirus vaccines and other COVID-19 items.
“The federal government came to me and said, you know, you already have all the members … all the industrial organizations that we would want to complete this work with,” ATI former Chief Operating Officer Robert Tuohy tells NPR. He stayed on as a consultant since stepping down as COO in 2019. (The Medical CBRN Defense Consortium added Pfizer and Novavax to its membership, according to an August notice in the Federal Register.)
In a bureaucratic twist, ATI was never explicitly told it was helping with Operation Warp Speed, Tuohy says, calling that fact “invisible” to the nonprofit.
“So the government then asks us to actually run a competition very similar to what the government would run within the membership of the consortia,” he says, adding that it saves the government time and resources. ATI’s job is to put out a request for proposals, collect the essential information (which is typically less than what’s required in FAR-based contracts), make sure they’re all in the same format and send them to the federal government for evaluation. Once the federal government makes its decision, ATI issues its own OTAs to the chosen members.
“Then they hand us the money and ask us to award essentially a sub-OTA to the team that they have selected within the membership of the consortium,” says Tuohy.
The Medical CBRN Defense Consortium was set up about four years ago to do contract work concerning chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense “as related to enhancing the mission effectiveness of military personnel.” As a result, Ardizzone wonders if it’s operating too far outside its original scope. This, she says, could be a sign the intermediary arrangement is “to just avoid the procedures and regulations that protect the American public in the government contracting process.”
Tuohy says the consortium was established with a flexible mission, adding that OTAs often get a bad rap, but they don’t deserve it. Even if the contracts don’t include things like the Bayh-Dole protections, he says they often have similar replacement language. When asked about whether these contracts could be disclosed to the public under public records requests, he said it was up to the government. ATI couldn’t point to an example of one of its contracts to consortium members being disclosed this way, but this may have happened without it being made aware.
Reporters asked Operation Warp Speed officials about when the contracts would be released to the public during a press briefing on Sept. 16.
“With respect to the contracts, the contracts are between ourselves, the United States government and private entities, and they are releasable to an extent. Obviously everything cannot be released, but they are releasable to an extent and they will be made available at some point in time,” said Lt. Gen. Paul Ostrowski, who directs Operation Warp Speed’s efforts on supply, production and distribution. “And I will tell you that they entail information that allows us to all know that we paid a fair and reasonable price for each one of these vaccines as we went forward.”
Feldman, of UC Hastings, says the administration’s comparison of Operation Warp Speed to the Manhattan Project is troubling.
“I think that’s completely the wrong image,” she says. “The right analogy, I think, for Operation Warp Speed is the penicillin effort in World War II. So there, the nation mobilized to create the entire penicillin industry. It changed how we treat disease. It ushered in the era of mass-produced pharmaceuticals. That’s what I think as the best you could do here. But it’s a completely different image than Manhattan Project.”
She says the penicillin effort is proof that public-private partnerships can produce great work.
“We can do a lot of good together, but we have to make sure pharma companies aren’t taking advantage of the crisis,” she says. “And we know from history that some will try. We know from history — current and past — that some will try.”
You can contact NPR pharmaceuticals correspondent Sydney Lupkin at email@example.com.