The Trump administration's Covid-19 vaccine distribution program needs a major shot in the arm because at the current rate, it would take almost 10 years to inoculate enough Americans to get the pandemic under control, a jarring new NBC News analysis showed Tuesday.
The goal of Operation Warp Speed, a private-public partnership led by Vice President Mike Pence to produce and deliver safe and effective Covid-19 vaccines to the public, is to ensure that 80 percent of the country's 330.7 million people get the shots by late June.
To meet that goal, a little more than 3 million people would have to get the shots each day, the math shows.
But so far, only about 2 million people — most of them front-line health care workers and some nursing home residents — have gotten their first shots of the 11.5 million doses that were delivered in the last two weeks, a review by NBC News of data from federal and state agencies showed.
"I don't think we're going to be able to distribute the 20 million doses that were promised" this year, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, a former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration under President Donald Trump and a Pfizer board member, said Tuesday on CNBC.
"Georgia, for example just started vaccinating nursing homes yesterday, and the vaccine has been on the market, right now — been authorized for almost three weeks," Gottlieb said. "So we're late getting into some of these facilities."
But once people start getting the first shot, he said, "you will start to see an impact on the most vulnerable population, I think, soon."
The data, said Gottlieb, who ran the FDA from 2017 until 2019, show that the vaccine "is partially protective after the first dose."
"We don't know exactly what the magnitude of that protection is and how long it lasts," he said. "But there is evidence that there's partial protection after the first dose."
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Later Tuesday, Biden blasted the Trump administration for "falling short" on how quickly people are being vaccinated.
"We are grateful to the companies, doctors, scientists, researchers and clinical trial participants and Operation Warp Speed for developing the vaccines quickly," he said. "But as I long feared and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should."
A short time later,the false claim that Biden "failed with the Swine Flu."
"Nearly 20 million first doses have been allocated to States for immediate delivery and administration at their direction, and this process is progressing rapidly," the White House said in a statement Tuesday night. "Hundreds of millions of doses have been secured to be delivered over the months to come."
"The President has used the Defense Production Act 18 times in connection with Operation Warp Speed and will continue to employ it wherever possible to accelerate vaccine manufacturing and save lives," the statement said.
Dr. Celine Gounder, a member of Biden's Covid-19 advisory board, and Dr. Ashish Jha, the dean of the Brown University School of Public Health, have warned that the U.S. will come up far short of projections by Trump administration officials that every person who wants a shot would be able to get one by the spring.