“They will benefit from the learning curve,” said Vijay Samant, a former Merck CEO who oversaw production of three successful vaccines during his tenure. Samant said vaccine manufacturers have spent months working to solve supply bottlenecks and that manufacturing is always expected to speed up in the coming months – a boon for the Biden administration.
Samant said, “They might get a lot of the credit because all of the surprise shots will be available and they are, ‘Oh, well, we did.’ Let me tell you, this is how it works. They are on the right end of the curve. “
Connecticut Governor, Democrat Ned Lamont, was likewise optimistic on Thursday, expecting vaccine supplies to rapidly increase in February and March. Governor spokesman Max Rees said the governor was recently in a call with Pfizer, during which the company confirmed its “plan to significantly increase production in February”. Much of this intensification is occurring even before the Biden administration took any steps under the Defense Production Act.
In an interview with ABC’s “Good Morning America”, Biden’s chief medical advisor expressed confidence in the president’s seemingly far-reaching goal to vaccinate 100 million people in his first 100 days.
Fauci said, “I feel fairly confident that this will not only be that, but may be better as well,” adding that he had seen the contractual agreements reached. “The quantity that will come, we will be able to achieve this goal.”
However, questions remain about where the US vaccine supplies currently are. The new administration has promoted aggressive federal plans to launch massive vaccination sites and deploy mobile units in hard-hit communities, and at the same time, some states are canceling appointments at existing vaccination sites, citing insufficient vaccine supplies.
The Biden team said it flies somewhat blindly when it comes to supplying the vaccine and how it is distributed across the country. A source close to the relocation told CNN that the Biden team has been denied access to the critical resources it needs to accurately measure supply and prepare to take over the start of implementation before Biden takes office.
“The cooperation or lack of cooperation funds from the Trump administration has been a hindrance,” Jeff Zaines, the White House coordinator for Covid-19, told reporters. “So we do not have the vision that we hope to have in the offer and allocations.”
To be sure, there is not enough vaccine available – in the United States or around the world – and the United States has faltered in getting vaccines quickly. But the Biden administration also appears to be trying to manage expectations, amplifying the mess left behind by the Trump administration while discovering concrete steps it can take to improve vaccine manufacturing and distribution.
The Biden administration has not made clear what it is doing to improve vaccine supplies immediately, except for agencies tasked with looking for opportunities to use the Defense Production Act.
Biden “remains fully committed to implementing the Defense Production Act in order to obtain supplies and materials to get the vaccine to Americans across the country, and remains committed to his goal of getting 100 million rounds into the arms of Americans first,” White House Press Secretary Jane Psaki said Thursday. “One hundred days.”
The White House did not elaborate on how they would communicate or work with states, but in a statement by CNN spokesperson Kevin Munoz, reiterated that they will “listen to the unique needs of states and design and direct the federal government’s resources accordingly to ensure that we get vaccines in the arms of Americans.” As quickly and safely as possible. “
White House officials said they have asked the Department of Health and Human Services to research all possible sources of the type of syringe that could help extract more doses of Pfizer from each vial. On Thursday, Biden said he will sign an executive order to use the Defense Production Act to direct federal agencies and private industries to “accelerate the making of whatever is needed to protect, test, vaccinate, and care for our personnel.”
A former administration official told CNN that the Trump administration has already implemented the Defense Production Act to help each of the six vaccine manufacturers, as well as on needle and syringe contracts.
“We will work with close and meticulous attention to all components of the supply chain to ensure manufacturing keeps pace with what we need,” Tim Manning, the White House Covid Supply Coordinator, told reporters. “The Defense Production Act is a powerful tool – a powerful set of tools – and there are many methods we can use to help ensure there is an adequate and growing supply of vaccine.”
Samant, the vaccine expert, said the administration would be better off focusing on the availability of raw materials such as lipids rather than specialized syringes.
“It’s like the most ridiculous thing to pursue,” Samant said of ramping up production of syringes, adding that such a move would improve, at best, vaccine supply by 5%.
For the Biden team, it is crucial to understand how much supply is available and how much could realistically be available in the coming months. Countries have said they need clear and consistent guidance on vaccine supply in order to be able to continue to simplify their vaccination programs.
“We will be making projections about the supply. We hear again and again from governors and local leaders that they do not know what the upcoming supply is and cannot plan. It will take the next few days for sure what is going on. Make sure we communicate with states and localities, so they can prepare effectively.” Zentes added.
According to a health official involved in the vaccine distribution process, hospitals receiving Moderna vaccine have complained that they were not fully aware of when they received them and how much they were getting, and in some cases, they were dispatched quickly when they received sudden shipments. Moderna declined to comment.
All these problems now land directly in the bosom of the new administration.
Some state officials said they are already concerned about the administration’s plan to allocate vaccines and reach out to states.
Under the previous administration, then Vice President Mike Pence and members of the Covid task force had regular calls with the country’s rulers during most of the pandemic. While some governors have found the calls largely useless, they can at least count on briefings as an opportunity to hear from senior medical experts and pose questions to the administration.
One day after Biden took office, state officials told CNN that there was still a lot of confusion about how countries would operate and communicate with the Biden administration as the pandemic continued to spread and vaccine distribution unfortunately declined.
According to a Republican official in the state, the National Referees Association has contacted some of its governors about working with the Biden administration on COVID-19. However, not all governors are members of the organization and it remains unclear how the administration plans to work with those outside the association.
A Democratic state official said they had not had any regular contact with the new administration.
Dr.. Bechara Choucair, the White House vaccination coordinator, was in contact with some of the governors but did not explain how the administration would handle the vaccination allocations.
Biden said Thursday that each state will be assigned a contact point with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
But in a news briefing on Thursday, Psaki was unable to provide any further details of how the Biden administration had improved communications with countries.
She said that the new Covid team “will engage with conservatives, Democrats, Republicans, mayors and local elected officials, to gain a better understanding of what is happening on the ground.”