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Operation Warp Speed chief adviser admits to 'lag' in vaccinations

Operation Warp Speed's chief scientific adviser conceded Monday that there has been a “lag” in the administration of coronavirus vaccines, but defended the federal government's handling of their distribution.

Moncef Slaoui initially said on CNN’s “New Day” that “nothing has gone wrong” in the vaccination process.

“What we had committed to is to have 20 million doses of vaccine available for the American people to be immunized,” he added.

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CNN’s Alisyn Camerota then noted that Trump administration officials, and Slaoui himself, have specifically projected 20 million Americans vaccinated by this point. Slaoui cited the doses sent to states while conceding “it is lower than we had hoped for.”

"We agree that there is a lag,” Slaoui said. “We’ll work with the states. We need specific requests for help. ... I wish we had vaccinated 20 million, obviously. We worked day and night to have these vaccines available and we will continue to work day and night to have them immunized."

When Camerota again noted Slaoui’s earlier projection, he insisted Operation Warp Speed had “hoped” to have vaccinated that many Americans by this point, pushing back on her characterization of him as “washing [his] hands of it.”

The exchange grew testy as Slaoui accused CNN of having mocked the notion of a vaccine being ready by the end of 2020. Camerota eventually asked him what the federal government’s plan for improving vaccination numbers was.

“Work with the states,” Slaoui replied. “We can’t decide where to help them. We, up to now, have made the strategic decision to work through the states. … No state’s health department has told us this is the wrong approach.”