On Sunday evening, Axios published a tweet featuring a brief snippet of Vice President Kamala Harris charging, “There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations … in many ways we are starting from scratch.” Axios commented, referring to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has remained in the government as President Biden’s chief medical adviser on Covid-19, “At a press conference last month, Fauci said ‘we certainly are not starting from scratch’ on vaccine distribution.”
— Axios (@axios) February 14, 2021
Excerpt of the exchange between Harris and the Axios reporter:
Reporter: You’re coming up on a month in. You’re inside the machine. What do you think is harder about the pandemic? Like, how are you finding the hole is deeper?
Harris: I mean, the challenge, Mike, is that, you know, what I explained to the mayors. There was no stockpile, right? It’s in many ways —
Reporter: No stockpile of —
Harris: Of vaccines. Right? So we’re looking at this — there was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try to figure it out. And so, in many ways we are starting from scratch on something that’s been raging for almost an entire year. And that’s, um —
Reporter: So are you having to adjust your sights now as to what’s possible, given that?
Harris: And to challenge that everything is possible we’ve got to figure out a way. That has to be our standard. Our standard has to be everything is possible but we’re going to have to work like heck to get it done. Which means again no patience, no patience for delay, no patience for “no,” no patience for “it can’t be done.” You now, that’s how I feel about it and maybe that’s why I was laughing because sometimes I express that kind of emotion …
CNN reported on January 21, the day after President Biden’s inauguration:
In the immediate hours following Biden being sworn into office on Wednesday, sources with direct knowledge of the new administration’s Covid-related work told CNN one of the biggest shocks that the Biden team had to digest during the transition period was what they saw as a complete lack of a vaccine distribution strategy under former President Donald Trump, even weeks after multiple vaccines were approved for use in the United States. “There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch,” one source said.
Another source described the moment that it became clear the Biden administration would have to essentially start from “square one” because there simply was no plan as: “Wow, just further affirmation of complete incompetence.”
At the White House press briefing the very same day, a reporter asked Fauci, “And if I could just ask you about the effort to distribute the vaccines, because, of course, that’s what most people want to know: when are they going to get a vaccine. Is the Biden administration starting from scratch with the vaccine distribution effort, or are you picking up where the Trump administration left off?”
Fauci answered, “No, I mean, we certainly are not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution.”