Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the White House official in charge of overseeing the Trump administration’s effort to support the production, approval, and distribution of a vaccine for COVID-19 blasted Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden’s claim that the Trump Administration has no plan to vaccinate Americans, adding there is a scheduled shared briefing with Biden and his team this week.
Biden told a press conference in Delaware last week that the Trump White House has no detailed plan on how to get the virus out to individuals and claimed that the Trump administration lacked an understanding of “how you get the vaccine out of a container, into an injection syringe, into somebody’s arm.”
The suggestion flies in the face of reports that millions of doses of at least one vaccine are awaiting distribution with several more vaccines on the way from other manufacturers, at least one affiliated with the White House’s “Operation Warp Speed,” which promised a vaccine for the most vulnerable Americans within the first quarter of 2021.
Dr. Slaoui told CNN that the White House most definitely does have a plan to make the vaccine available and that Biden’s team has a briefing on the matter on the schedule for this week, suggesting that the Democrat — and likely the next president — should be well aware not just that there is a plan, but that it is in operation.
“Slaoui pushed back on Biden’s remarks in an interview with CNN’s ‘State of the Union’ on Sunday morning, arguing there is a detailed distribution plan but Biden’s transition team hasn’t yet been fully briefed,” NBC News reported late Sunday.
NBC News headlined its report by noting that the two teams are set to meet this week on the issue.
“Slaoui will be the latest top health official to meet with the Biden team as the transition gets underway,” the outlet added. “Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, agreed to serve as Biden’s chief medical advisor last week and met with the incoming administration.”
Dr. Fauci, at least, appears to have been in regular contact with the Biden transition team and is familiar enough with the presumptive incoming administration to have accepted a position on a Biden task force tacking the COVID-19 pandemic. Dr. Fauci is also familiar with the White House’s vaccine plan, telling a CNN town hall just last week that, while the vaccine is ready for distribution as soon as the Food and Drug Administration grants approval, it may be April before most Americans who are not either particularly vulnerable or among the nation’s force of health care workers will get the shot.
That tracks with what Dr. Saloui told media during his rounds on Sunday.
“I think we may start to see some impact on the most susceptible people probably in the month of January and February,” Slaoui said in an interview with “Face the Nation” Sunday. “But on a population basis, for our lives to start getting back to normal, we’re talking about April or May.”
Both Saloui and Department of Health and Human Service Secretary Alex Azar noted Sunday that vaccines are already on the ground waiting to be distributed — much of the supply arrived at Chicago’s O’Hare airport late last week — and the administration is just waiting for the FDA’s approval to put the vaccine distribution into motion.
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