Following sources with direct knowledge of the new administration’s Covid-related work telling CNN that newly sworn-in President Joe Biden and advisors are inheriting no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to speak of from the Trump administration, many have hit back at claims that former President Donald Trump lacked a distribution plan.
President Trump did in fact create what he called “Operation Warp Speed” to develop and distribute a vaccine against the novel coronavirus within a matter of months. The goal was “to produce and deliver 300 million doses of safe and effective vaccines with the initial doses available by January 2021…”
Moreover, the administration for the most part delegated to the states the distribution of the vaccine to the public.
But the Biden administration claims they are “going to have to build everything from scratch,” one source told CNN.
Another source illustrated to CNN in its Thursday report the moment they said it became apparent that the Biden administration would have to essentially start from “square one” because there simply was no plan as: “Wow, just further affirmation of complete incompetence.”
Jeff Zients, Biden’s coronavirus response coordinator, also recently told reporters, according to The Hill, “What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined.”
Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) called Zients’ comments an “old Washington spin,” in a statement.
In a tweet sharing the statement from the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, the GOP members of the subcommittee wrote, “The Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed laid the groundwork for success.”
“The fact is the Biden Administration inherited contracts for 300 million doses of vaccines for two approved vaccines and two in the final stage of clinical trials,” Scalise said in the statement.
“Because of Operation Warp Speed and President Trump’s strong leadership, the United States is already administering close to a million vaccines a day. By doing simple math, we are on track to deliver 100 million doses in 100 days, showing that President Biden’s plan is not a new plan at all and leans on the Trump Administration’s success,” he argued.
“If President Biden wants to develop a new plan to administer 200 million vaccines in 100 days,” Scalise added, “Congressional Republicans stand ready to work with President Biden to help further speed vaccine distribution.”
In CNN’s report, one of the sources told the news outlet that—prior to Inauguration Day—some of Biden’s COVID-19 advisers had wanted to be careful not to be too publicly critical of the Trump administration’s handling of the virus and vaccine, given that the Biden transition team was already experiencing difficulty with getting vital information and cooperation from the soon-departing administration.
The same source added that—now that power has been handed over—the Biden administration is hoping that they can quickly begin to get a clearer idea of where things actually stand with vaccine distribution and administration across the United States, carrying out a sort of “fact-checking” exercise on what exactly the previous administration did and did not do.
It is also worth noting that shortly after Biden took the oath of office Wednesday, Amazon offered his administration assistance in distributing the vaccine.
“As you begin your work leading the country out of the COVID-19 crisis, Amazon stands ready to assist you in reaching your goal of vaccinating 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of your administration,” Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, wrote in a Wednesday letter to President Biden.
“We are prepared to leverage our operations, information technology and communications capabilities and expertise to assist your administration’s vaccination efforts,” Clark continued. “Our scale allows us to make a meaningful impact immediately in the fight against Covid-19, and we stand ready to assist you in this effort.”
The company has not stated why it waited until Biden entered the Oval Office to offer its help with vaccine distribution.
You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.
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Elizabeth Warren Acknowledges Unintended Consequences of Obamacare
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a longtime supporter of the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is now acknowledging the unintended consequences of the healthcare legislation, particularly its impact on industry consolidation and rising healthcare prices.
Warren, who has been a vocal proponent of Obamacare, has recently had what the Wall Street Journal reported as an “epiphany” regarding the consequences of the healthcare law. In a letter addressed to the Health and Human Services Department inspector general, Warren, along with Senator Mike Braun of Indiana, expressed concerns about vertically-integrated healthcare companies potentially increasing prescription drug costs and evading federal regulations.
According to reports from Fox News, the bipartisan letter highlighted issues with the nation’s largest health insurers allegedly bypassing Obamacare’s medical loss ratio (MLR). According to Warren, these insurers, through vertical integration, have manipulated the system, leading to “sky-high prescription drug costs and excessive corporate profits.”
The senators detailed how conglomerates, like UnitedHealth Group, with ownership across various healthcare sectors, could inflate medical payments to pharmacies and, by realizing those payments on the pharmacy side, appear to comply with MLR requirements while retaining more profits.
Moreover, despite the Democrats’ argument that the MLR would benefit patients, it has incentivized insurers to merge with or acquire pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), retail and specialty pharmacies, and healthcare providers. This, in turn, has made healthcare spending less transparent, as insurers can allegedly shift profits to their affiliates by increasing reimbursements.
Warren, who has consistently voted against Obamacare repeal efforts, notably advocated for a “Medicare for All” proposal during her 2020 presidential campaign. Despite her prior support for the healthcare law, Warren’s recent concerns about its unintended consequences have raised questions about the long-term effects of Obamacare and its impact on the healthcare industry.
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