President-elect Biden addresses COVID-19 crisis, says vaccine distribution has ‘fallen behind’

Coronavirus Vaccine

WILMINGTON, Del. (NewsNation Now) — President-elect Joe Biden delivered remarks on the coronavirus pandemic Tuesday afternoon, telling Americans the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should and urging vigilance to mitigate the spread of the virus.

“We need to follow more closely the recommendations to slow the spread of the virus,” Biden said. “It’s going to take all the grit and determination we have as Americans to get it done.”

Biden said his administration will work to boost the pace of vaccinations, warning if the current pace continues, it would take “years, not months” as the Trump administration’s goal of vaccinating 20 million by the end of 2020 has fallen behind, with only some 2 million vaccinated.

“With only a few days left in December, we’ve only vaccinated a few million so far,” Biden said.

Biden said it will still take months to vaccinate the majority of Americans even if the program’s pace is ramped up.

President Trump responded to Biden’s comments in a tweet:

“It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government.”

In his remarks, Biden outlined five things he says Americans need to know:

  1. Things are going to get worse before they get better.
  2. “The Trump administration plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind, far behind.”
  3. The Biden-Harris administration will spare no effort to make sure people get vaccinated.
  4. They will use the Defense Production Act to accelerate vaccine production and start a massive public education campaign to show the vaccines are safe, as well as provide equitable distribution.
  5. Remain vigilant.

Biden said he’s laid out three challenges for the Biden-Harris administration’s first 100 days.

“One of them is ensuring 100 million shots have been administered by the end first 100 days. If Congress provides the funding, we’d be able to meet this incredible goal,” Biden said. “It would take ramping up five to six times the current pace to 1 million shots a day. But even with that improvement, even if we boost the speed of vaccinations to 1 million shots a day, it will still take months to have the majority of the country vaccinated.”

Biden also announced additional members of his White House COVID-19 Response team: Sonya Bernstein, COVID Senior Policy Advisor, Bechara Choucair, Vaccinations Coordinator, Eduardo Cisneros, COVID Intergovernmental Affairs Director, Clarke Humphrey, COVID Digital Director, Carole Johnson, Testing Coordinator, Tim Manning, Supply Coordinator, Osaremen Okolo, COVID Policy Advisor, Cyrus Shahpar, COVID Data Director and Courtney Rowe, Director of Strategic Communications and Engagement.

The coordinators will handle three crucial aspects of the COVID-19 response strategy: supply chain management, vaccinations, and testing.

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris received Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine earlier Tuesday.

Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff were vaccinated at United Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

The vice president-elect received the shot live on television as part of the incoming Biden administration’s efforts to boost confidence in the inoculation.

“I want to encourage everyone to get the vaccine. It is relatively painless. It happens really quickly. It is safe,” Harris said after receiving the shot Tuesday.

Moderna developed its vaccine with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which is part of the National Institutes of Health. It was authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for emergency use this month, after the agency gave the greenlight to administer Pfizer’s vaccine.

President-elect Biden received his first injected dose of the Pfizer vaccine live on television last week. Both vaccines require two doses for full protection.

Biden, who takes office on Jan. 20, has said he will make the fight against the coronavirus, which has infected more than 19 million Americans and killed over 335,000, his top priority.

President Donald Trump doesn’t have any public appearances scheduled for Tuesday so far, as his push for $2,000 COVID-19 stimulus checks heads to the Senate. The House voted overwhelmingly Monday to meet the president’s demand to increase the $600 stipends.

 Biden had told reporters at an event in Wilmington, Delaware, that he supported the $2,000 checks.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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