The Biden administration’s claims that it inherited no COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan continue to be disputed, this time by former officials of the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.
Operation Warp Speed is the reason a vaccine was developed ahead of anyone’s expectations, and the operation’s success is demonstrated by the fact that the U.S. was hitting President Joe Biden’s goal of 1 million vaccines administered a day before he even took office. Biden recently expanded that goal to 1.5 million vaccines administered a day, another goal the U.S. was already on track to meet prior to any efforts from the Biden administration.
Yet, Biden administration officials claimed they inherited no vaccine distribution plan from the outgoing Trump administration. CNN recently reported anonymous Biden officials claiming they inherited “no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to speak of from the Trump administration.” Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond told CNN on Saturday that the “sad part is the last administration didn’t leave anything” and “didn’t leave a plan.” Biden chief of staff Ron Klain said on CNN’s “Meet the Press” that “the process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole, did not really exist when we came into the White House.”
After the first reports from anonymous officials came out, Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases, refuted the claims, saying, “We certainly are not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution.”
Fauci added that “you can’t say it was absolutely not usable at all.”
Yet the Biden administration has persisted in its claims to be starting from scratch. Now, more former Operation Warp Speed officials have come forward to defend the previous administration from baseless attacks.
Former Health and Human Services chief of staff Brian Harrison told National Review that the Trump administration “provided the Biden team over 300 transition meetings, including the very first one on Warp Speed which I kicked off myself.”
“The idea that they’re walking in, having no clue what was going on, is absolutely preposterous,” he added.
Another former senior official told the outlet that distribution is being managed by U.S. Army general Gustave Perna, and added that the plan is “extraordinarily detailed” and “comprehensive.”
“It’s gone flawlessly,” the former official told National Review. “Like, out of tens of thousands of deliveries under extreme cold storage conditions, I think three out of like 30,000 didn’t make it to the right place at the right time. So, it’s a 99.99 percent success rate of shipping to the right place at the right time in the right quantity, under the right conditions.”
Another former senior HHS official told the outlet that the “CDC was the one who volunteered — not volunteered, asserted — itself to the task, and said that they were going to be in charge of this because they were in charge of pandemic influenza distribution and allocation.” This same official blamed the Biden administration for “playing politics with public health.”
“They’re shifting blame. That’s the most polite way I could describe it. But I’ll tell you that the guys at Warp Speed were pushing the CDC really hard to basically demonstrate that the plans were more than just paper,” the official told the outlet. “They pushed them as hard as they could, but again, CDC was strident in its view that they’re the experts. They’re the ones with the relationships with the states. They’re the ones who could do this and that.”
“It’s disgraceful that the CDC is pointing its finger at Warp Speed, when CDC was the one that said that they were in charge and basically said they were the one responsible party,” he added. “It’s passing the buck, and I just think that’s disgraceful.”
The vaccine distribution plan from the Trump administration focused on allowing states to determine how they would get the vaccine administered.
“Under the Trump administration, there wasn’t one vaccine rollout plan, but rather 64 plans, one from each of the nation’s public health jurisdictions. Those plans were crafted, starting in mid-September, based on a 60-page operating book provided by the CDC, which gave guidance to local officials about operations, logistics, information technology, and storage requirements, among other things. The jurisdictions turned in their vaccine administration plans in mid-October, one former official said,” National Review reported.