The Hustle

Which ambitious projects were done the fastest?

The COVID-19 vaccine development ranks up there with Patrick Collison's list of the ambitious projects that were completed with the most speed.


November 20, 2020

Patrick Collison — the CEO of $36B fintech startup Stripe — is obsessed with how fast ambitious projects can get done.

His personal blog has a URL that ends with /fast; on the page he recounts some of history’s great achievements done at warp speed:

Have we lost the need for speed?

Today, a single new bus lane in San Francisco is slated to take more than 7k days to complete.

Collison wonders why many of these “fast” ambitious projects took place many decades ago. He hypothesizes 2 reasons for the slowdown:

We can, however, celebrate the speed of emerging COVID-19 vaccines.

Moderna’s vaccine development took 300+ days from viral sequencing to announcing Phase 3 study results this past Monday. Here’s how this development stacks up with other ambitious (albeit not apples-to-apples) examples:

While a final vaccine has many additional hurdles to overcome, it should be encouraging for us all to see that humans do, in fact, have the capacity to work together and get monumental things done very quickly.

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