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Health experts say COVID vaccine distribution isn't progressing nearly fast as projected


Yes, we're gonna have to go right to ludicrous speed

Photo by Aytug Can Sencar/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and Dr. Scott Gottlieb all say that the Trump administration's "Operation Warp Speed" isn't unfolding quickly enough or as initially projected.

What are the details?

According to a Tuesday NBC News report, approximately 2 million out of 330 million Americans have received a coronavirus vaccine at the time of this reporting.

Initially, President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence projected that 80% of Americans — approximately 264 million people — would be vaccinated by June. At this rate, however, reports say that the program will fall rather short of the projected goal.

"To meet that goal, a little more than 3 million people would have to get the shots each day, the math shows," NBC's Joe Murphy and Corky Siemaszko reported.

In September, Trump vowed that 100 million vaccine doses would be shipped out by the end of 2020.

The outlet reported, however, that in December, as the first doses were rolled out, Operation Warp Speed's Dr. Moncef Slaoui cut that projection to just 20 million.

What are people saying about this?

On Tuesday, Dr. Scott Gottlieb — Pfizer board member and former Food and Drug Administration commissioner under the Trump administration — told CNBC that he doesn't believe the country will be able to deliver the "20 million doses" that were promised this year.

"Georgia, for example, just started vaccinating nursing homes yesterday, and the vaccine has been on the market, right now — been authorized for almost three weeks," he explained. "So we're late getting into some of these facilities."

Dr. Anthony Fauci also told CNN on Tuesday, "Well, we certainly are not at the numbers that we wanted to be at the end of December."

Biden on Tuesday echoed Gottlieb's remarks, saying, "We are grateful to the companies, doctors, scientists, researchers, and clinical trial participants and Operation Warp Speed for developing the vaccines quickly. But as I long feared and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should."

Has Trump weighed in on this?

President Donald Trump issued a statement in response to Biden's remarks on Tuesday night.

A portion of the statement said, "Nearly 20 million first doses have been allocated to states for immediate delivery and administration at their direction, and this process is progressing rapidly. Hundreds of millions of doses have been secured to be delivered over the months to come."

"The president has used the Defense Production Act 18 times in conjunction with Operation Warp Speed and will continue to employ it wherever possible to accelerate vaccine manufacturing and save lives," the statement continued.

In a statement, Operation Warp Speed spokesman Michael Pratt told the outlet that there is an "expected lag between shots going into arms and the data being reported."

Health and Human Services Assistant Secretary Dr. Brett Giroir told NBC News that the reported 2 million shots given already is an "underestimate."

"[W]e were over the Christmas break last week — even for hospitals that slows things down," he told the outlet. "And it's only 15 days since the first vaccines were given."

Giroir said, however, that the administration still wants to expedite the vaccinations.

"I'd love to have everybody vaccinated by now," he said. "We'll have another 30 million doses in January, another 50 million doses in February, and that's going to add up pretty quickly into impact, particularly in our vulnerable communities.

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