Following the initial rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, Dr. Anthony Fauci says the United States is behind schedule in its vaccination distribution.
While appearing virtually on CNN's New Day on Tuesday, the 80-year-old health expert — who serves as the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — said that the nation is currently "below where we want to be."
"We certainly are not at the numbers that we wanted to be at the end of December," Fauci said. "You heard talking about 40 million doses for 20 million people. I mean, even if you undercount 2 million as an undercount, how much undercount could it be? So we are below where we want to be."
Then, saying that General Gustave Perna, who serves as the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, has similarly spoken about the ordeal, Fauci continued, "I believe that as we get into January, we are going to see an increase in the momentum which … I hope allows us to catch up to the projected pace that we had spoken about a month or two ago when we were talking about the planned roll-out of the vaccinations."
"Because we really wanna get those priority people vaccinated so that we can then get to what we call the open season for the general population," he added. "Because once you do that — I mean, what we're doing now is certainly saving lives, no doubt about that — but when you get to the point where you can essentially say anybody and everybody who wants to be vaccinated can be vaccinated, that's when you really turn around the dynamics of the outbreak."
Speaking with CNN, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, noted three major reasons for issues surrounding the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine: vaccine supply, inadequate infrastructure and communication.
On vaccine supply, Benjamin told the outlet that the United States does not have what it needs to vaccinate those who will need the vaccine.
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During his chat with New Day, Fauci also spoke candidly about whether or not Americans should have confidence that the current plan in place will work. "Well, we have to see," he said. "As not being responsible myself for the rollout, I can't personally guarantee that we're gonna catch up."
"I hope we do," he continued. "The people who are responsible for it, are really on it. The question is: Are they going to be able to get back to the pace that we set early on? And again, I hope we can."
President-elect Joe Biden similarly spoke about the lag in vaccination distribution in a speech delivered Tuesday, where he criticized the Trump administration for its slow rollout of the novel coronavirus vaccines, promising what he said will be a faster pace and a more robust plan to combat the spread when he takes office next month.
"The effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should," Biden said, in remarks delivered from Wilmington, Delaware, and livestreamed online. Biden noted that the current distribution of the two COVID-19 vaccines significantly lags behind the 20 million the Trump White House promised would be administered by year’s end.
"With only a few days left in December, we've only vaccinated a few million so far," Biden said, adding that if the vaccination program continues to move at its current pace, "it's going to take years not months to vaccinate the American people."
Though he said he could foresee a return to normalcy within the next year, Biden predicted that the next few weeks and months would be "maybe the toughest" of the entire pandemic.
"We need to steel our spines for what's ahead," Biden said. "And each of us needs to do what we can to protect our families, ourselves, and our fellow Americans."
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