President Donald Trump tried Wednesday to deflect criticism of a slower-than-expected introduction of the Covid-19 vaccine. He said the US had distributed the life-saving shots but the states had to administer them.
As of Monday morning, more than 11.4 million doses of Pfizer and Moderna two-dose vaccines had been distributed across the country, but only about 2.1 million doses were given to people, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That’s a far cry from US health officials’ original goal of getting at least 20 million Americans their first shots before the end of the year.
“The federal government has distributed the vaccines to the federal states,” said the president in a tweet. “Now it is up to the states to manage. Move on!”
President-elect Joe Biden and public health specialists have criticized Trump’s vaccination program in recent days for failing to deliver doses as quickly as they were being distributed.
Michael Pratt, a spokesman for Operation Warp Speed, said the U.S. is close to meeting its target of injecting 20 million Americans with its first shot by the end of the year. He said the CDC data is likely to be incorrect due to delays in reporting.
“Operation Warp Speed remains on track to deliver approximately 40 million vaccine doses and 20 million primary vaccination doses by the end of December 2020. The distribution of the 20 million primary doses extends into the first week of January when states place orders she, “he said in a statement.
The CDC acknowledged delays in their vaccine data from the states and jurisdictions they collect and report to federal officials, among other things.
“A large difference between the number of doses distributed and the number of doses administered is expected at this point in the COVID vaccination program due to several factors,” the agency said.
The federal government has also not yet partnered to distribute vaccines with major pharmacy chains like CVS and Walgreens, which are supposed to be tasked with vaccinating long-term care residents, the CDC added.
Dr. Luciana Borio, a coronavirus advisor for Biden, said incoming government needs to “dramatically increase” support to states to help with vaccine delivery.
“My idea is that states have some autonomy in vaccination, but that doesn’t mean we just drop off a range of vaccines at their sites and let them handle them,” Borio said on CNBC’s “Squawk” box on Wednesday. “She is a former Food and Drug Administration officer who served in the Trump administration as director of medical and biological preparedness for the National Security Council.
Borio praised the Trump administration’s urge to develop and manufacture the vaccines quickly. However, she said, “It doesn’t really work if not everyone has access to a vaccine who wants one.”
“Giving states some autonomy in making the best use of vaccines for their immediate needs does not mean that you are leaving them without meaningful assistance and logistical support to actually conduct vaccinations for the American people, and accurately that’s what happened, “she said.
While Congress’s latest coronavirus bailout is giving states over $ 8 billion to launch vaccines, Borio sees it as a “down payment.”
“All efforts to produce safe and effective vaccines in record time will be in vain if we don’t speed up the process of getting vaccines into people’s arms.”
Dr. Leana Wen, former Baltimore health commissioner, said in a telephone interview that the country’s public health authorities were already in need of more funding and have been overwhelmed for months to respond to the pandemic. She said the federal government should allocate more resources to manage the shots.
“This gives me flashbacks of all the testing issues,” she said. “Responsibility has been given to the locals and states, but no resources or lack of resources to actually get there.”
Biden on Tuesday criticized Trump’s efforts to introduce the vaccine, saying that “the Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is far behind”.
“As I have long feared and warned, efforts to distribute and administer the vaccine are not progressing as they should,” he said at a press conference.