US vaccine distribution short of 2020 goal; top health official says pace is ramping up

Coronavirus Vaccine

WASHINGTON (NewsNation Now) — Operation Warp Speed will fall short of its original goal to get 20 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine distributed by the end of 2020.

At the end of the week, 15.6 million doses will be distributed and in the hands of states and local health department, said Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett P. Giroir, M.D.

“That 20 million has been allocated, but the last few million won’t be out until next week,” Giroir said. “That is the ground truth.”

Despite the amount distributed, about 2.1 million people have been vaccinated so far, according to Giroir.

“We know that’s an underestimate,” Giroir said, explaining there is a several day lag in reporting the numbers. “We know it’s bigger than that, but it’s much less than the 14 million that’s already been distributed, that we know is actually there.”

CDC data actually showed 2,794,588 people getting the first dose of the vaccine as of 9 a.m. EST on Wednesday.

900 residents in nursing homes and long-term care facilities were vaccinated last week. He said 4,000 facilities will be vaccinated this week.

“That will increase, remember we’ve only been vaccinating people for 16 days. We’ve had Christmas, three snowstorms, a lot has happened and all vaccines programs start a little bit slowly, but we expect that number to ramp up dramatically,” he said.

On Wednesday, the U.S. hit a record for daily deaths and hospitalizations. The U.S. has had nearly 19.7 million cases of COVID-19 and 341,505 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

“We are in a dangerous and critical time in this pandemic,” Giroir said. “These are not numbers to me.”

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President-elect Joe Biden’s plan is to have 100 million vaccinated in his first 100 days.

“I think that goal is actually a step back from our goals. We certainly expect to do 100 million doses in people’s arms over 100 days starting next year, so I don’t disagree with that except I don’t want him to turn Operation Warp Speed into Operation Go Kart,” Giroir said.

He said he supports Biden’s mask mandate. Biden said on Tuesday that Operation Warp Speed was moving at a slower pace than needed.

“Public health is not political,” he said.



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