Officials with Health and Human Services, the Department of Defense and Operation Warp Speed are holding a briefing on COVID-19 vaccine distribution Wednesday. The briefing comes as only about two million people have been vaccinated across the United States — a far cry from the 20 million promised by the end of the year.
More than 10 states have received fewer doses of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine than originally projected, with little explanation as to why. Army General Gustave Perna, the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, acknowledged during a briefing on December 19 that there was a “miscommunication” with states about how many doses would be initially available to them. He said he took “personal responsibility” for the miscommunication.
President-elect Joe Biden criticized the Trump administration’s vaccine rollout on Tuesday. “The pace of the vaccination program … if it continues to move as it is now, it’s going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people,” he said.
How to watch Operation Warp Speed briefing
- What: Officials brief the public on vaccine distribution
- Date: December 30, 2020
- Time: 12:00 p.m. ET
- Online stream: Live on CBSN in the player above and on your mobile or streaming device.
Asked what the Biden administration will do to catch up, Dr. Atul Gawande, a member of President-elect Biden’s COVID-19 Advisory Board, told CBSN on Tuesday that the incoming administration is still working to understand the cause of the lag.
“We still don’t have all the information that’s required to understand where the bottlenecks are,” Gawande said. “If there are ingredient shortages to make the vaccines, then we will invoke the Defense Production Act if necessary to generate the ingredients needed. If this is a problem with distribution, then we’re going to need to understand where the bottlenecks are.”
“There’s so many steps along the way that are critical, and the reality is it’s one administration at a time,” he said. “But come January 20, I think the Biden administration will be much more transparent and clear about where the challenges are what the opportunities are and how we’re going to solve them.”
HHS Secretary Alex Azar has said that by June 2021, any American who wants to get vaccinated should be able to. Gawande said he’s “worried about over-promising” on a timeline of “when things are going to be able to be back to normal.”
“You have to build in that there are going to be hitches in this process, and we’re already seeing it in the first couple weeks getting started,” he warned. “I think the realistic picture is to expect that it could be fall before things are really — enough people are being vaccinated, that we’re getting back to normal.”
Gawande said that “the Biden administration will do everything possible to accelerate this process,” but stressed that transparency with the American people is paramount. “We’ve been consistently underestimating the virus, and overpromising what will be accomplished, and that has to change,” he said.
The president-elect, however, has made his own promises. On Tuesday, he reiterated a vow to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days in office.
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