President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday criticized the Trump administration for “falling behind” on efforts to vaccinate Americans against the coronavirus and pledged more federal involvement in the largest inoculation campaign in U.S. history.
“As I long feared and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should,” Biden said after a Covid-19 briefing in Wilmington, Del.
Federal officials have said that up to 20 million Americans could be vaccinated by the end of the year. About 11.4 million shots had been sent to states as of Monday, and 15 million are expected to be shipped by the end of the year. More than 2.1 million people have received the first doses of a two-course regimen, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden said the federal government would send mobile units to hard-to-reach communities and help set up vaccination sites. He also said his administration would invoke the Defense Production Act — which the Trump administration has said it’s using to support production of six vaccines. Additionally, the Biden team confirmed to POLITICO the appointment of three senior officials to coordinate vaccine, testing and supply chain strategy.
The Trump administration said the CDC figures undercount the actual shots that have been administered, because health providers report the data up to 72 hours after a vaccine was delivered. It may take more time for the data to get to the CDC.
The government’s vaccine accelerator, Operation Warp Speed, is slated to allocate nearly 20 million shots to states, though the last 5 million won’t be delivered until the end of the first week of January. The federal government is keeping another 20 million in reserve for second doses.
Moncef Slaoui, the head of OWS, defended the 20 million goal last week in a press conference.
“The commitment that we can make is to make vaccine doses available … and I think that commitment is met,” Slaoui said, adding vaccinations are happening “slower than we thought it would be.”
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