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White House testing czar: 'We need to be doing a better job' in rolling out coronavirus vaccine

White House testing czar: 'We need to be doing a better job' in rolling out coronavirus vaccine
© getty: Adm. Brett Giroir

The White House’s testing czar on Wednesday said the administration needs to do a “better job” rolling out the coronavirus vaccine as the government faces criticism for falling short of its own immunization goals.

"Of course, we need to be doing a better job, but all vaccine programs start somewhat slow," Assistant Secretary for Health Adm. Brett Giroir said in an appearance on CNN before adding that he expects distribution to increase in the coming days.

"I know we will be distributing about 30 million more in January and potentially up to 50 million more in February," he said. 

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Giroir’s comments come as the Trump administration faces criticism over its vaccine rollout, which observers say will be insufficient to meet the White House’s own goal of giving 20 million people a shot by the end of the year. 

According to figures from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) last updated Wednesday morning, about 2.8 million people have received the first vaccine dose from the shots by either Pfizer/BioNTech or Moderna. Both inoculations require two doses separated by a few weeks. About 12.4 million doses have been distributed overall.

Those figures are likely lower than the actual numbers of vaccines that have been distributed and administered due to reporting delays, but they still indicate that the government will not be close to reaching its 20 million goal with just one day left in the year. 

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Health officials have been playing defense over the number of vaccines that are being administered, expressing optimism while recognizing the total could be higher.

"We are really doing well, in my opinion, in distribution," Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, said during a call with reporters Wednesday. "Over 14 million doses of vaccine had been distributed to date, and every day we push more vaccine." 

"Somewhere there is a lag in how the numbers are computed, but surely, it's a number that is smaller than the 14 million doses that are out there already available for us," added Moncef Slaoui, Operation Warp Speed's chief science adviser. "We agree that that number is lower than what we hoped for."