For much of the last week, the White House wouldn’t answer questions about the stockpile of COVID-19 vaccine doses.
Maybe this is why. It turns out that members of President Joe Biden’s administration have yet to locate 20 million vaccine doses that were distributed to the states last month, according to a new report.
A Politico report on Saturday said “Biden’s team is still trying to locate upwards of 20 million vaccine doses that have been sent to states — a mystery that has hampered plans to speed up the national vaccination effort.”
“’It’s the Mike Tyson quote: ‘Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth,’ said one person with knowledge of the vaccine effort who’s not authorized to discuss the work. ‘They are planning. They are competent. It’s just the weight of everything when you sit down in that chair. It’s heavy,'” the political website reported.
Millions of doses of two vaccines have been distributed, but Politico said once the vaccine shipments are delivered to the states, “responsibility for tracking them has been left up to states’ individual public health systems. The administration then only gets an update once the doses are actually administered and an official record is submitted.”
“‘I think they were really caught off guard by that,’ said one adviser. ‘It’s a mess.'”
On Dec. 8, then-President-elect Biden vowed to deliver 100 million vaccines in his first 100 days in office. “I’m absolutely convinced that in 100 days, we can change the course of the disease and change life in America for the better,” Biden said in remarks from Wilmington, Delaware.
But before Biden even took office, the Trump administration had already hit that number.
In one of his first acts in office, Biden signed a slew of executive orders. After one signing ceremony, an Associated Press reporter, Zeke Miller, asked Biden if his target should be set higher than 1 million a day, noting “that’s basically where the U.S. is right now.”
“When I announced it, you all said it’s not possible,” Biden said gruffly, blasting the media. “C’mon, give me a break, man.”
On Monday, Biden bristled again when faced with a question about the 1-million-a-day goal.
“One more on vaccines. Mr. President, one more on vaccines,” Fox News reporter Peter Doocey said as Biden sought to leave at the end of a brief press conference following another executive order signing ceremony.
“Now, wait, wait, wait,” Biden said. “I know he always asks me tough questions, and he always has an edge to them, but I like him anyway. So go ahead and answer — ask the question.”
“Thank you, Mr. President. So you just said that you think within three weeks or so we’ll be at the point where there are a million vaccines per day, but it seems like —” Doocey said before the president cut him off.
“No, I think we’ll get there before that. I said, ‘I hope…’ — I misspoke. I hope we’ll be able to increase as we go on until we get to the million-five a day. That’s my ex- — my hope,” Biden said.
Biden eventually upped the goal to 1.5 million doses per day — on the very day that the U.S. topped that, inoculating 1.6 million Americans.
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