President Biden slammed former President Donald Trump for “not doing his job in getting ready for the massive challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans.”
“While scientists did their job in discovering vaccines in record time, my predecessor — I’ll be very blunt about it— did not do his job in getting ready for the massive challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans,” Biden said Thursday after touring the National Institutes of Health.
“He didn’t order enough vaccines. He didn’t mobilize enough people to administer the shots. He didn’t set up federal vaccine centers where eligible people could go and get their shots,” Biden added.
“When I became President three weeks ago, America had no plan to vaccinate most of the country. It was a big mess. It’s going to take time to fix, to be blunt with you. I promised, when I did my inaugural address, that I’d always be straight with you, give it to you straight from the shoulder — I will not walk away when we make a mistake; I’ll acknowledge it and tell you the truth.”
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention vaccine data as of Friday night, 48.4 million individual COVID-19 vaccine doses have been administered, with more than 35.8 million having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine and 12 million receiving both doses as needed.
Biden in his remarks also announced that the federal government had purchased 100 million more doses from Pfizer-BioNTech, as well as 100 million more from Moderna of the two-dose regimens, saying it will be enough to cover every American by the end of July. In order to secure additional doses, Biden used options built into contracts negotiated last year by the Trump administration.
“We’re going to get those doses of hope out,” Biden promised.
The new deals don’t immediately expand access to shots, which remain in short supply throughout much of the country. They primarily serve to prevent a shortfall later in the year by increasing supply by 50 percent, bringing the total to 600 million doses.
“As the President directed, we are expanding our supply of COVID vaccines to protect people as quickly as possible,” acting Health and Human Services Secretary Norris Cochran said in a statement.
Biden said some of those doses would be delivered sooner than anticipated, guaranteeing enough supply by the end of May to vaccinate 200 million people under the two-dose protocols. However, Moderna said they would provide 100 million, but it is unlikely the purchase will make the vaccine widely available sooner as Biden claims. In a statement confirming the purchase, Moderna said they are exploring ways to “accelerate delivery, with the goal of providing this new order of 100 million doses before the end of July 2021.”
Last month, the Biden administration said that it plans to buy an additional 100 million doses each of the Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines. The purchases would increase available supply by 50 percent, bringing the total to 600 million doses by this summer.
Biden, in remarks Tuesday evening, said he expected the additional doses to be delivered through the summer.
“This is an aggregate plan that doesn’t leave anything on the table or anything to chance, as we’ve seen happen in the past year,” Biden said.
He added, imitating a line approach of his predecessor he often cited during the height of the pandemic, “This is a wartime effort.”
Each company already has agreed to deliver 200 million doses to the federal government by the end of June. Pfizer has said it can deliver 120 million of those doses by the end of March, at a price of $19.50 per dose, while Moderna has pledged 100 million by then, with each dose sold for $15.