- Democratic Oregon Gov. Kate Brown accused the federal government’s coronavirus vaccine rollout of “deception on a national scale.”
- Trump’s health secretary said Tuesday that Operation Warp Speed would start shipping out vaccine doses that were being held in reserve.
- But there are actually no extra doses in reserve, leaving state leaders who were expecting an increase in doses scrambling, The Washington Post reported Friday.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Oregon’s Democratic governor slammed the Trump administration’s vaccine initiative on Friday for making apparently false comments about how many COVID-19 shots would be available.
Gov. Kate Brown accused Operation Warp Speed of “deception on a national scale” in a tweet, following reports that there are no extra vaccine doses to give out, contradicting a recent policy change touted by top government officials.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that the government would start releasing vaccine doses that had been held back. While the expectation was that this would lead to several million doses being released, The Washington Post’s Isaac Stanley-Becker and Lena Sun reported that there’s no built-up reserve to tap, since the doses were already being shipped out when they were ready.
That confusion led Brown to blast Warp Speed, a program that has faced criticism for weeks now over a sluggish and chaotic start to a nationwide vaccination campaign. Brown added that she learned the news last night from Warp Speed Chief Operating Officer Gen. Gustave Perna.
“I am demanding answers from the Trump Administration,” she tweeted Friday morning. “I am shocked and appalled that they have set an expectation on which they could not deliver, with such grave consequences.”
HHS spokespeople did not immediately respond to a request for comment. HHS confirmed to the Washington Post that the reserves had already been released.
In a January 14 letter to Azar, Oregon Health Authority Director Patrick Allen said that this unexpected change “puts our plans to expand eligibility at grave risk” and said the state may not be able to start immunizing elderly citizens beginning on January 23 as planned.
Biden team plans massive changes to vaccine program, including Warp Speed’s personnel and name
With less than a week left in the Trump administration, President-elect Joe Biden has laid out a different approach to the vaccine rollout. On Thursday night, he called for significant funding to assist states and a more cohesive nationwide strategy.
Biden called the current US vaccine rollout a “dismal failure.” The incoming team will replace longtime drug industry executive Moncef Slaoui, Warp Speed’s chief scientific advisor, with David Kessler, a former Food and Drug Administration commissioner. Biden will also drop the Operation Warp Speed moniker, a Biden spokesperson said Friday.
So far, nearly 9.7 million Americans have gotten at least one dose of a coronavirus vaccine. While more than 30 million doses have been distributed to states, slightly more than one-third of doses have actually been used, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Warp Speed officials had predicted earlier in December that there would be enough doses to immunize 20 million people in December, 30 million more in January, and 50 million more in February.
After falling far short of the December goal, Warp Speed officials have declined to provide updated monthly projections.
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