President-elect Joe Biden this week criticized the Trump administration for “falling behind” in efforts to immunize Americans against the coronavirus and pledged greater federal involvement under his leadership. Amid concerns about the pace of the vaccine rollout, President Donald Trump has said the onus is on states to deliver vaccines faster.
“The federal government distributed the vaccines to the states”, Trump tweeted wednesday. “Now it’s up to the states to manage.”
Critics say Trump’s team has put too much of the blame for vaccinations on resource-strapped state health services still grappling with the pandemic, without pressuring Congress for more help early. Lawmakers eventually approved nearly $ 9 billion for vaccine distribution in their year-end relief program, but states say it will take weeks to do things like set up mass vaccination sites and launch public education campaigns.
“They should have done it early. And they should have sent that money to the states, ”said Ashish Jha, the dean of the school of public health at Brown University. “And then they should have worked with the states to set up all of these places, so that by the time the vaccines arrived, we had all the sites located where the vaccinations were going to take place.”
The administration has made optimistic assessments on what is sure to become the biggest vaccination effort in U.S. history, starting with HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s October claim that the country may have until ‘at the end of the year 100 million doses, enough for 50 million people to be vaccinated with a two-dose schedule. That goal was gradually reduced to 40 million doses, enough to get 20 million people vaccinated – a benchmark that federal officials cited several times in the last some months.
As for the vaccines given so far, “we are certainly not at the numbers we wanted to be at the end of December,” said Anthony Fauci, the government’s senior infectious disease specialist. CNN Tuesday. Federal health officials on Wednesday expressed confidence that the pace of vaccinations will pick up as early as next week.
“We are launching a vaccination campaign in the midst of a pandemic outbreak, after a year that has exhausted and strained health care providers and public health services, and we are launching a vaccination campaign during the holidays winter, ”Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Disease, said during a press call.
Operation Warp Speed, the government’s vaccine accelerator, has announced plans to allocate 20 million shots by the end of the year to states, although the last 5 million are only actually delivered the first. week of january. The government is keeping 20 million more doses in reserve so that people can receive their second injection weeks later.
Moncef Slaoui, the head of the OWS, defended the 20 million target, saying the government had kept its word.
“The commitment we can make is to make the vaccine doses available… and I think that commitment is being honored,” Slaoui said last week, adding that the vaccinations were going “slower than we thought”.
State officials say it takes time to scale up any vaccination effort, let alone the massive Covid business. States and hospitals are hammer who gets hit first. The vaccine manufactured by Pfizer must be stored at ultra-cold temperatures. And local officials say they are figuring out how to safely conduct a mass vaccination effort while the virus is still circulating widely.