President-elect Joe Biden plans to hit the Trump administration Tuesday for “falling short” on the pace of vaccinating Americans against Covid, a transition official said, previewing the remarks.
“As (Biden) has done since the beginning of this crisis, he will be truthful and straightforward with the American people about what lies ahead, and will address the current Administration falling short on its pace for vaccinations,” the official said.
The Trump administration’s vaccine distribution efforts are off to a slower start than officials had projected after a number of unanticipated snags, highlighting the logistical complexity of the herculean effort.
Officials working on Trump’s Operation Warp Speed said this month they planned to have 20 million doses of the vaccine distributed by the end of the year, down from the 100 million doses that Trump had projected in September would be shipped out by year’s end.
But while the federal government said Monday that 11.5 million does of the vaccine have been sent to the states so far, only about 2 million people have gotten their first dose, according to data compiled by NBC News from federal and state agencies.
At the current rate of around a million shots a week, the U.S. will come up far short of projections by Trump administration officials that every person who wants a shot would be able to get one by the spring, said Drs. Celine Gounder, a member of Biden’s Covid-19 advisory board, and Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health. It will require millions of shots being administered every day for months in order for the country to return to some sense of normalcy by the spring, they said.
Biden has vowed to administer 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office.
Also Tuesday, Vice President-elect Kamala Harris will receive the vaccine, a little over one week after Biden got his first dose of the vaccine live on television.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease specialist, had been recommending Biden and Harris to get vaccinated as soon as possible for national security reasons.
Biden’s remarks on the ongoing Covid crisis and vaccination program will come on the heels of President Donald Trump’s decision on Sunday night to sign the $2.3 trillion government funding and coronavirus relief package, narrowly avoiding a government shutdown.
Biden criticized Trump over the weekend for holding out on signing the bill, calling it an “abdication of responsibility.”
Biden’s remarks on Covid on Tuesday also come as Capitol Hill grapples with whether to increase the coronavirus stimulus checks to $2,000, as Trump has been pushing for.
The Democratic-controlled House narrowly passed a bill Monday evening to increase direct coronavirus relief payments, although the measure faces an uphill battle in the Republican-run Senate.
Biden on Monday said he supported increasing the direct payments to $2,000.
Meanwhile, the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies also announced Tuesday that they have canceled the traditional Inauguration Day luncheon on Jan. 20 with the newly sworn-in president and vice president, citing health concerns.
“In light of the ongoing pandemic, the JCCIC, in consultation with the Presidential Inaugural Committee, has made the decision to not move forward with hosting the traditional inaugural luncheon,” said Paige Waltz, a spokesperson for the JCCIC, adding that more announcements would be made on the various inaugural ceremonies that typically take place at the U.S. Capitol.