Biden COVID-19 adviser: It will be ‘months’ before all who want vaccine get it
A White House COVID-19 adviser on Wednesday said that it will be “months” before all Americans who want a coronavirus vaccine can get one, a much more pessimistic message than the one delivered by President Biden.
“We are taking action to increase supply and increase capacity. But even so, it will be months before everyone who wants a vaccine will be able to get one,” Andy Slavitt, senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 Response Team, said during a briefing.
Slavitt added that there is a difference between vaccines produced and vaccines administered, and the administration is working to bridge that gap.
“I want to level with the public that we’re facing two constraining factors. The first is getting enough supply quickly enough, and the second is the ability to administer the vaccines quickly once they’re produced and sent out to the sites,” Slavitt said.
“I don’t want you to hear that just because they will be manufactured and produced by a certain date, that is the same thing as” getting the vaccine into people’s arms, he added.
Slavitt’s comments are markedly different from remarks Biden gave Monday when he said he thinks any American who wants a COVID-19 vaccine should be able to get one by spring.
“It’s going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we’ve ever tried in this country, but I think we can do that,” Biden said during a press conference.
Biden added that he hoped the U.S. could be vaccinating 1.5 million people per day in the coming weeks.
But ever since those comments, the White House has been working to temper expectations.
On Tuesday, press secretary Jen Psaki clarified that Biden was merely being optimistic about being able to inoculate 1.5 million people per day and that he was not setting a concrete goal.
The administration’s vaccination goal remains to inoculate 100 million people in 100 days.
That timetable has drawn scrutiny from reporters and experts who question if it’s ambitious enough, given the country seemed to already be near hitting that mark when Biden took office.
Slavitt on Wednesday acknowledged the administration has hit its target of 1 million vaccinations per day, but that number of doses is “the floor, not the ceiling,” he said.
Biden has also sought to set a more sobering, realistic tone.
On Tuesday, the president announced plans to purchase an additional 200 million doses combined of Pfizer and Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccines.
The extra doses would be enough to vaccinate 300 million Americans, but Biden said they would not be available until the end of summer or early fall.
“The brutal truth is: It’s going to take months before we can get the majority of Americans vaccinated,” Biden said.