Health and Human Services administrator Alex Azar said Monday if the incoming Biden administration achieves its goal of 100 million shots in arms in the first 100 days, that would be a “squandering of the opportunity” the Trump White House has laid out for them.
Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Team Biden is “inheriting a huge mess” when it comes to vaccine distribution and that they would set a goal of “100 million inoculations in 100 days.”
Azar, speaking on Fox News, said Klain’s comments were part of an effort by the Biden administration to “down talk where things are so they can look like heroes when they come in” and ride on the momentum that Operation Warp Speed has already created, adding that 900,000 vaccinations are being administered each day.
“This whole President-elect Biden and ‘we’ll have 100 million shots in arms by the end of April,’ the first 100 days. We will have distributed 250 million doses of vaccine by the end of April. If they’ve only done 100 million vaccinations by then, it will be a tragic squandering of the opportunity that we handed them,” he said.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker, as of Jan. 15, more than 31 million doses have been distributed and more than 12 million people have received the first dose of the two-dose treatment.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks during a news conference on Operation Warp Speed and COVID-19 vaccine distribution.AP/Patrick Semansky
Klain said on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the administration will implement a vaccination program “unlike any we have seen in American history.”
He said Biden wants to use the Defense Production Act to “ramp up production of particular kinds of syringes that allow us to get six doses out of the vials, instead of five, and increase the vaccine supply by 20 percent. So we believe there will be adequate supply to give people their second shots. And, more importantly, we believe that there will be continued supply and distribution of that supply to hit that target of 100 million shots in 100 days.”
Azar was asked during the interview if the administration erred by giving governors too much responsibility for getting the shots into people’s arms.
Azar says the Biden administration’s COVID-19 vaccine goal would be a “squandering” of opportunity.AP (2)
He said some states did a good job, but blasted New York, Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin for “micromanagement.”
“I mean imagine what would have happened if we tried to micromanage this from Washington or from Atlanta and the CDC. You’ve got to do this at the local level,” said Azar, who announced his resignation over the weekend.
“And most governors are doing a great job. And most governors — over 70 percent of our governors — would tell you, Democrat and Republican, that this is going well. They’re working well with us. It’s the natural scale up. You’ve got some governors who are frankly the ones who are failing, who have administered 50 percent or less of the vaccines that have been shipped to them. That’s places like Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan. They’re failing and they’re just looking for somebody else to blame here. Let’s be honest about it,” he said.