Joe Biden's team struggling with 100M Covid-19 vaccination goal, yet to locate over 20M doses sent to states
The new administration vowed to inoculate 100 million people in its first 100 days but the real challenges have put up big hindrances
President Joe Biden promised to bring into action a competent team to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic which has killed more than 441,000 people in the US and affected over 26 million overall. One of his mission goals was setting ambitious vaccination targets but when it came to reality, the new administration has been found to be dealing with chaos and "mess".
Politico on Saturday, January 30, reported that Biden’s team came to the White House to roll out a response plan worth 200 pages. But instead of getting on with the act, officials of the new administration were found spending much of the last week “trying to wrap their hands around the mushrooming crisis”.
One of the challenges that Biden’s team has faced is to locate more than 20 million vaccine doses that have been sent to states -- a mystery that has hindered the effort to speed up the vaccination effort. The administration is also trying to find ways to improve production of a vaccine stockpile that have been found to be mostly empty. On top of it, the administration is also anxious that a new series of Covid-19 strains could hamper the entire recovery process that they are trying to put in order.
“It’s the Mike Tyson quote: ‘Everybody’s got a plan until they get punched in the mouth,’” one person familiar with the vaccine effort, told Politico on the condition of anonymity. “They are planning. They are competent. It’s just the weight of everything when you sit down in that chair. It’s heavy.”
Officials on President Biden's team, who took over from Donald Trump on January 20, in leading the Covid-19 response launched a series of regular briefings recently to inform the people on the state of the pandemic and the government efforts to deal with it, including inoculating as many people in the country as possible. But the reality has been tough. Officials pointed out that the team was actually “struggling to get a handle on basic information, liaise with the career government workers who have been running the response and build out a long-term strategy for bringing — and then keeping — the virus under control,” the Politico added.
“One of the virtues of a well-run transition is that by the time you take the reins, you have developed some rapport and trust with the career people you’re working with,” the source added. The “courtship has been unnaturally short,” the person added.
The Politico report added that once the vaccine shipments are sent to the states, the responsibility for tracking them is up to states’ own public health systems. The federal administration then only gets an update once the doses are administered and an official record is registered. “I think they were really caught off guard by that,” one adviser said, adding: “It’s a mess.”
'Nobody has a complete picture'
“Nobody had a complete picture,” Julie Morita, a member of the Biden transition team and executive vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, told Politico. “The plans that were being made were being made with the assumption that more information would be available and be revealed once they got into the White House.”
Dr Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, recently warned that the current supply crunch is something she is worried about the most and the agency still has little idea about the scale of the shortage. That, according to experts, has created more difficulties for the states as well as the Biden administration. Walensky also suggested that one reason why the federal government has remained unsure about the amount of vaccine currently available is because of the lack of data gathered under the previous administration.
The conservative media outlets have not spared the Biden administration, however. Blaze Media, for instance, said: “The report also notes that administration officials have discovered that the available stockpile of vaccine is "mostly empty," and that they are struggling to find ways to boost production in order to even meet the administration's initial goal of 100 million vaccination doses in the first 100 days, which was widely criticized as being too modest and not even an improvement on the rate of vaccine delivery during the final days of the Trump administration."