U.S. President Joe Biden’s chief of staff said state-level distribution plans for COVID-19 vaccines “don’t really exist” under Donald Trump’s administration, even as the pandemic has exploded over the course of of the last months in power of the former president.
“The process of distributing the vaccine, especially outside of nursing homes and hospitals, into the community at large, didn’t really exist when we got to the White House,” Ron Klain said in an interview on NBC’s Meet the Press Sunday. .
Klain’s comments come amid reports of state-level snafus in vaccine distribution and shortages in parts of the country, which has recorded more than 25 million COVID-19 infections and at least 417,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic – the highest figures in the world. world.
Biden, who took over from Trump on Wednesday, has vowed a fierce fight against the deadly novel coronavirus.
While the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed contributed to the development and manufacture of vaccines, the deployment of the vaccine is late and the United States missed its goal of inoculating 20 million Americans by the end of 2020.
Instead, that goal wasn’t reached until mid-January, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said. CDC data shows that about half of the 41.4 million vaccines that have been distributed to U.S. states have been administered to date.
Under Trump, the federal government distributed vaccines to states on a population basis, with subsequent distribution largely left to state governments.
Anthony Fauci, a U.S. infectious disease specialist who worked in the coronavirus task force under Trump, said on Friday that the previous administration left too much of the blame on states.
This was picked up by Klain on Sunday. “We have seen this factor across the country where millions of doses have been distributed, but only about half have been distributed,” he said.
“So the process of arming this vaccine – it’s the difficult process. This is where we are falling behind as a country, ”he said. “This is where we are focusing in the Biden administration – to make it fast.”
Biden promises to work with states
Biden has set a goal of delivering 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days of his tenure, a figure that some have criticized as not ambitious enough. He also signed a series of decrees last week, some of which target the distribution of vaccines.
The Biden administration plans to partner with state and local governments to create vaccination points in conference centers, stadiums and gymnasiums.
The new administration also said it would deploy thousands of clinical staff from federal agencies, military medical personnel and drugstore chains to increase vaccinations and make teachers and grocery clerks eligible.
The deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine in the United States, which began in mid-December, has been defined by a patchwork of challenges for state governments, as they grapple with the monumental task of inoculating their populations.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio on Friday warned the nation’s largest city “is burning” its vaccine supply, adding “we need more doses immediately.”
Meanwhile, state governor Andrew Cuomo said only 67% of New York City healthcare workers had received their vaccine. Without an increase in production, the healthcare system could face additional stress, Cuomo added.
In New Jersey, Gov. Phil Murphy said a federal program within the state to help residents of nursing homes had distributed only 10 percent of its vaccines.
Meanwhile, an Associated Press analysis of federal hospital data found that since November, the share of U.S. hospitals near breaking point has doubled.
More than 40% of Americans now live in areas running out of intensive care space, with just 15% of beds still available, the news agency reported on Sunday.
The tension has brought nurses in hard-hit hospitals to a breaking point, Dr Marc Boom, CEO of Texas-based Houston Methodist Hospitals, told AP.
“Why don’t you make it easier for you?”
A major problem has also been the organization of vaccine distribution in small pharmacies and clinics.
In California, only a handful of independent pharmacies have been able to acquire vaccines for their customers – usually only in rural areas where large chain stores do not have a presence, said Sonya Frausto, pharmacist in the state capital of Sacramento. , to the Reuters news agency.
Jerry Shapiro, a 78-year-old man who owns an independent pharmacy in downtown Los Angeles, told Reuters he had spent hours in the past month trying to contact health agencies to receive a vaccine , in vain. He was finally able to make an appointment on Saturday.
Shapiro said his clients also called every day to get vaccines, but he had to tell them he didn’t have any.
“Why not make it easier for you?” asked Shapiro, who is also worried about his wife due to medical conditions that would make her particularly vulnerable to the virus.
“Have it in your neighborhood. Make an appointment, take your photo and finish. “