President-elect Joe Biden instructed states to give COVID-19 vaccines to all essential workers and Americans over 65 immediately, to stop doses from lingering on shelves.
‘The process of establishing priority groups was driven by science, but the problem – the implementation has been too rigid and confusing,’ Biden said. ‘We now see doses of vaccines sitting in freezers unused while people who want the vaccine cannot get it.’
Biden spoke Friday from Wilmington, Delaware about his vaccination plan after calling the Trump effort ‘dismal’ in a Thursday night address about Congressional funding he’ll need to right the pandemic response.
He used the same adjective Friday.
The Trump administration left it up to states and localities to define priority groups, but that has often meant wasted doses when, for instance, medical professionals didn’t show up for their vaccination appointments.
Biden also confirmed CNN’s reporting last week that he wants to release a majority of vaccine doses in the U.S., under the theory that it’s better to get more Americans one shot than fewer people two.
However, the Washington Post reported Friday that when Trump’s Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar made the same call – to release the stockpiled doses – no such stockpile existed.
The two approved vaccines, Pfizer and Moderna, are two-shot regimens.
President-elect Joe Biden will roll out his plan to distribute COVID-19 vaccines after calling President Donald Trump’s operation ‘dismal’ Thursday night in Wilmington (pictured)
President Donald Trump called his administration’s push for a fast COVID-19 vaccine Operation Warp Speed. The Biden team plans to dump that branding
The president-elect said he would ‘move heaven and earth’ to pick up the pace of vaccines being put in Americans’ arms. He’ll debut a vaccine distribution plan later Friday in Wilmington
Incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki explained on Twitter Friday that OWS – Operation Warp Speed’ – used to describe the U.S. government’s rapid push for a COVID-19 vaccine would have a different name under the Biden administration
‘Truthfully we remain in a very dark winter,’ Biden told the small crowd of journalists watching him speak at the Queen theater in Wilmington.
He noted that infections were up 34 per cent and
Earlier, the incoming administration confirmed that Biden would be doing away with the name ‘Operation Warp Speed.’
‘[Operation Warp Speed] is the Trump team’s name for their program. We are phasing in a new structure, which will have a different name than OWS,’ incoming White House press secretary Jen Psaki said on Twitter. ‘Many of the public servants will be essential to our response, but urgent need to address failures of the Trump team approach to vaccine distribution.’
Bloomberg first reported Friday morning that the moniker ‘Operation Warp Speed’ would be replaced by the more obvious ‘COVID response.’
Psaki said the ‘comprehensive COVID response’ would be run directly out of the White House.
Trump used Operation Warp Speed as the name for his administration’s push to get drug companies to rapidly develop a COVID-19 vaccine, which was successful. The administration has continued to use the brand while distributing the vaccine.
So far the distribution of the two approved vaccines has been marked with problems.
In a tweet sent out before his speech, the president-elect promised he would ‘move heaven and earth’ to ‘allow more people to get vaccinated’ and ‘create more places for them to get vaccinated.’
He said he would be mobilizing medical teams to get more shots in arms.
And ‘increase vaccine supply and get it out the door as soon as possible.’
On Friday morning, the Biden-Harris transition announced additional appointments to the administration’s COVID-19 team.
Dr. Bechar Choucair, who is currently the chief health officer for Kaiser Permanente, will be responsible for meeting the administration’s goal of getting 100 million Americans vaccinated within its first 100 days, Psaki explained in her tweets.
Bloomberg reported that David Kessler, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration, would replace Moncef Slaoui, who ran Operation Warp Speed under Trump.
Kessler’s job, which falls under Biden’s Health and Human Services Secretary-designate Xavier Becerra, will be to maximize the current supply of vaccines and work with drug companies to add to the U.S. supply.
Even before Friday’s rollout, Biden’s team had expressed concern that the ‘Operation Warp Speed’ branding was hurting the reputation of the vaccines.
‘One last myth that I want to dispel is a concern that I’ve heard from some people that this vaccine was developed too fast, right?’ Vivek Murthy, the incoming surgeon general, said on a call this week, Bloomberg reported.
Vivek said he realized that perception may be coming from the project’s name.
‘So, even the name of the entity in government that was charged with trying to figure out how to get a vaccine quickly was called Operation Warp Speed, right?’ he said.
Becerra, Vivek and and COVID Coordinator Jeff Zients held a call Monday with union leaders on COVID-19 vaccinations assuring participants that working people would have access to doses.