Several Democratic governors have criticized the Trump administration for apparently misleading public health officials for keeping a stash of Covid-19 vaccines in reserve.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that the government would begin releasing vaccine doses that are being held in “physical reserves” to ensure adequate supplies for second doses.
Both Pfizer and Moderna federally approved vaccines are given in two shots, several weeks apart.
The Washington Post reported on Friday that despite Azar’s remarks, there is no such federal reserve of vaccines. Quoting state and federal officials, the newspaper said the Trump administration began shipping its available offer back in December.
Democratic leaders say the lack of a Federal Reserve will mess up plans to increase the speed and scope of their vaccination campaigns.
“Last night I received disturbing news backed up straight to me by General Perna of Operation Warp Speed: The states will not receive increased vaccine supplies from national inventory next week because there is no federal reserve dose,” said Oregon Gov. Kate Brown wrote about General Gus Perna, Chief Operating Officer of Operation Warp Speed, in a post on Twitter.
“This is a national deception,” Brown added. “Oregon’s seniors, teachers, and we all had to rely on the promise that Oregon’s share of the Federal Reserve of vaccines would be given to us.”
Washington Democratic Governor Jay Inslee also took to the platform and said the government “must respond immediately for this deception”.
“I am shocked that we have been lied to and that there is no national reserve,” Colorado Democrat Jared Polis wrote on Twitter.
He said the federal inventory release announcement “resulted in us expecting 210,000 cans next week” and that other governors had made similar plans.
“Now we’re finding out we’re only getting 79,000 next week,” Polis wrote.
Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a Democrat, said at a press conference that “they lied,” referring to the federal government.
Walz and democratic governments. Michigan’s Gretchen Whitmer and Wisconsin’s Tony Evers said in a joint statement on Friday: “It has become abundantly clear that not only has the Trump administration botched adoption of the safe and effective COVID-19 vaccine, but the American people as well was misled by these delays. “
The governors requested permission to buy vaccines directly from the manufacturers.
“Without additional shipping or direct purchase approval, our states could be forced to abandon plans in the coming weeks for public vaccination clinics that are expected to vaccinate tens of thousands. It is time for the Trump administration to do the right thing and help us end this Pandemic, “wrote the governors.
Azar responded to the governors in a thread on Twitter on Saturday, describing their claims as “completely misleading” and “devaluation”.
“We had a supply of reserved second doses as of December. We started releasing these second doses in late December so people could get their second doses. We have progressed this release gradually,” wrote Azar.
The HHS chief said the announcement this week was “that we will be releasing the remaining reserved second doses according to the cadence set – to make sure the second doses are available at the correct interval – and that we have no reserves in the future would. ” second cans. “
“The efforts of some governors to mislead the American people into distraction from their own distribution errors are deplorable,” Azar said, citing data showing that Michigan, Oregon and Wisconsin had not yet given the bulk of the vaccines already distributed in those states .
The Trump administration has grappled with Democratic civil servants since the Covid-19 crisis began, initially for delivering tests and other medical equipment and more recently for distributing vaccines.
President-elect Joe Biden, who will be inaugurated on Wednesday, has pledged to strengthen the federal government’s role in vaccine delivery. Biden has pledged to give 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in office.
So far, vaccination efforts have lagged far behind official predictions. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12 million doses were administered. Health officials had hoped to bring that number to 20 million by January.
Subscribe to CNBC Pro for the TV livestream, deep insights and analysis of how to invest during the next presidential term