The newly appointed director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Sunday that the federal government remains in the dark about just how much vaccine is currently available and warned that states like New York won’t be able to quickly replenish its limited supply.
“One of the biggest problems right now is I can’t tell you how much vaccine we have, and if I can’t tell it to you then I can’t tell it to the governors and I can’t tell it to the state health officials,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky told “Fox News Sunday.”
Walensky added the government does not “have as many doses as we would like now for states like New York [or] for other states that are claiming to have run out of vaccine.”
As President Joe Biden pledges to distribute 100 million Covid-19 vaccinations in his first 100 days, Walensky said “the supply is probably going to be the most limiting constraint early on.”
“We’re really hoping that after that first 100 days we’ll have much more production,” she added.
The Biden administration last week released its comprehensive plan for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic, including an increase in the number of vaccination sites and ramped-up vaccine production. The virus has claimed more than 418,000 American lives and infected upwards of 25 million across the U.S., according to an NBC News tracker.
According to Bloomberg’s vaccine distribution tracker, the U.S. recently hit a pace of 1 million vaccinations per day. The CDC reports that more than 20.5 million doses have been administered across the country as of Saturday— about half of what states have on hand. The vast majority of those who have been vaccinated have only received their first of the two necessary doses.
An NBC News poll found that just 11 percent of registered voters say the vaccination process has been going “very well,” with 31 percent saying it is going “fairly well.” Of those who say the rollout has not gone well, 64 percent place blame primarily on the federal government.
In an interview with CBS’s “Face the Nation” that aired Sunday, Dr. Deborah Birx — who coordinated the Trump White House’s Covid-19 response — said the former president had “no team, full-time team in the White House working on coronavirus.”
Xavier Becerra, Biden’s nominee to lead the Department of Health and Human Services, was asked in an interview Sunday with CNN’s “State of the Union” whether the Biden team was seeking to lower expectations on vaccine distribution so that success would be viewed as a major achievement.
“Well, if the plane is diving like this, you’re certainly not going to see it appear like this overnight,” he said. “What you’re trying to do is get the plane from being like this to getting straightened out, and then going like this. In three — in 100 days, getting 100 shots out there on vaccines, 100 million shots out there in vaccines, is incredibly important. It’s ambitious, it’s bold, it’s doable. We have to do it. But we have to recognize that we’re doing it while the plane is in a dive like this.”
And in an interview with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” White House chief of staff Ron Klain said the goal of 100 million vaccinations in the first 100 days of Biden’s administration was “bold” and “ambitious” but “we need to keep going after that.”
“That is our first goal, it’s not our final goal, it’s not the endpoint, it’s just a metric the American people can watch and measure how we are doing,” he said.