Biden health officials express concern about short-term vaccine supply crunch

Asked on ABC’s “This Week” whether President Joe Biden’s promise of 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days was good enough, Surgeon General pick Vivek Murthy said that goal was a reflection of the realities the rollout faces.

“That’s a floor; it’s not a ceiling,” Murthy told host George Stephanopoulos. “It’s also a goal that reflects the realities of what we face, what could go right but also what could go wrong.”

Both officials said the potential approval of a Johnson & Johnson vaccine could be a positive future development, but Murthy noted that Biden’s 100-million-vaccines promise is not reliant on that happening.

“The goal of achieving 100 million shots in 100 days is one that is achievable with the supply that we have and that we’re anticipating from Pfizer and from Moderna,” he said.

Experts have pointed out that vaccinating 100 million Americans in 100 days will still leave the nation far short of herd immunity as the nation’s caseload continues to grow. The total number of diagnosed coronavirus cases in the United States surpassed 25 million. More than 417,000 people have died in the U.S.

Walensky said that the data she had seen so far indicated the current supply problems were an immediate concern, rather than a long-term issue.

“We have every indication that over time we will get more and more vaccine, so we certainly can’t predict any of the obstacles that would come in our way here,” she said, later adding that she hoped the supply concerns would ease by March.

The Biden officials said that in the Trump administration’s rollout, local governments were not given sufficient guidance or resources to effectively give doses to hard-hit communities. They said they were working to address the lack of supply and lack of coordination between the federal government and the states.

It’s not enough to merely increase supply, Murthy said. “We’ve also got to set up the kind of distribution channels, like mobile units, like strategically placed community vaccination centers, that can reach people who traditionally are hard to reach and don’t have access to health care,” he added.

Appearing on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Biden Health and Human Services pick Xavier Becerra echoed the calls for coordination.

“What we have to do is show people how it can be done. You can’t just tell the states and the local governments, here’s some vaccines, now you go do it,” Becerra said.