White House Chief of Staff: Biden Administration Taking Responsibility for COVID-19 Vaccines

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President Joe Biden is taking responsibility for distributing and administering COVID-19 vaccines in America, his chief of staff said Sunday, as he also defended statements different health advisers made.

“The fundamental difference between the Biden approach and the Trump approach is that we’re going to take responsibility at the federal government. We’re going to own this problem. We’re going to work closely with the states. They are our key partners in getting this done. But we’re also going to do the work ourselves,” Ron Klain said on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” referencing how over 41 million vaccine doses have been sent to states, but only 20 million have been administered.

“We’re going to set up these federal vaccination centers to make sure that in states that don’t have enough vaccination sites, we fill those gaps. We’re going to work closely with the manufacturers to ramp up production. One of the first orders the president signed was using his legal authority under the Defense Production Act to mandate the production of more vials that can extract more doses out, more syringes that could extract more doses out of the existing vaccine vials. So we’re going to use all the powers we have in the White House,” added Klain, who spoke as Biden’s nominee for health secretary told another station that the United States is seeing uncontrolled spread of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

Biden unveiled a national COVID-19 strategy during his first full day in office and campaigned on the issue, saying he’d be at the head of a response that would do better than former President Donald Trump’s administration did. Still, he said Friday that the trajectory of the pandemic in the next months couldn’t be changed, triggering pushback from some.

vaccine
Nurse Patti Ward inoculates EMT Jazmin Murillo with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine at UMass Memorial Hospital in Marlborough, Mass., on Jan. 12, 2021. (Joseph Prezioso/AFP via Getty Images)

Biden also pledged to oversee 100 million vaccinations in his first 100 days in office, a goal that’s already within reach because of the acceleration of daily vaccinations that took place under Trump. West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice, a Republicansaid last week he wants the daily rate of nationwide vaccinations to shoot to 5 million, or even 10 million.

Klain said Biden’s goal is still “very bold and ambitious” but hopes that even more Americans are vaccinated.

Two Biden administration officials presented an apparent contradiction, with Jeff Zients, coordinator of the president’s COVID-19 task force, suggesting during a call with reporters that Trump’s team left them with little in the way of vaccine distribution. The claim was echoed in a CNN report that cited anonymous officials.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, though, told reporters during a briefing, “We certainly are not starting from scratch.”

“I think those two statements actually reconcile more than you might think. I think what Dr. Fauci’s saying is, of course, a year of really amazing scientific breakthrough and discovery created this vaccine in record time. And we have seen the initial wave of vaccinations take place. So that is progress we are building on. There’s no question about it. But the process to distribute the vaccine, particularly outside of nursing homes and hospitals out into the community as a whole did not really exist when we came into the White House,” Klain said Sunday.

“As everyone in America has seen, the way in which people get vaccine is chaotic. It’s very limited. We’ve seen this factor all over the country where millions of doses have been distributed. About half of that has been given out. So the process of getting that vaccine into arms, that’s the hard process, that’s where we’re behind as a country and that’s where we’re focused, in the Biden administration, on getting that ramped up.”