The Washington Post reports today, the word from the Trump administration earlier in the week that a “reserve” of COVID-19 vaccine doses would be released to the states under expedited new guidelines designed to get more Americans vaccinated faster, which had spurred hopes that the vaccine logjam would finally ease up, was in error:
When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans. The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available beginning at the end of December, taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line.
Now, health officials across the country who had anticipated their extremely limited vaccine supply as much as doubling beginning next week are confronting the reality that their allocations will not immediately increase, dashing hopes of dramatically expanding access for millions of elderly people and those with high-risk medical conditions. Health officials in some cities and states were informed in recent days about the reality of the situation, while others are still in the dark.
Gov. Jared Polis of Colorado is not happy:
I’m shocked we were lied to and there is no national reserve.Federal announcements that 2nd dose being held in reserve was going to be released led us to expect 210,000 doses next week,other Govs made similar https://t.co/ETVIqM0clH we find out we’ll only get 79,000 next week.
— Jared Polis (@jaredpolis) January 15, 2021
Though it looks to be more a matter of miscommunication and ineptitude than outright treachery, it’s just the latest broken promise from the Trump administration on what should be the highest priority in the nation–the race to vaccinate Americans against COVID-19 as the daily death toll hits an unthinkable 4,000. The US ended 2020 with fewer than 3 million people vaccinated despite a goal set by the administration of 20 million. This is a failure compounding with each passing day, with a direct cost in preventable deaths.
Truly, January 20 cannot come fast enough.