Jan 15, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Biden: "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution

Joe Biden
Joe Biden. Photo: Chip Somodevilla / Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden promised to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase vaccine manufacturing, as he outlined a five-point plan to administer 100 million COVID-19 vaccinations in the first months of his presidency.

Why it matters: With the Center for Disease Control and Prevention warning of a more contagious variant of the coronavirus, Biden is trying to establish how he’ll approach the pandemic differently than President Trump.

  • "We remain in a dark winter," Biden said. "Things will get worse, before they get better."
  • "The policy changes that we are making will take time to show up in the COVID statistics."

The big picture: Thursday, Biden unveiled a $1.9 trillion relief plan to confront the economic and health impacts of the coronavirus, including, roughly $20 billion for a national vaccination program, and another $140 billion for testing and other public health investments.

  • Biden plans to work with states on vaccine distribution, set up vaccination centers, activate pharmacies across the U.S. and use the full strength of the federal government” to ramp up vaccine production.a
  • He pledged to be “transparent” about where the U.S. stands in terms of its supply.
  • Biden also promised to reimburse states for the deployment of the National Guard to help administer vaccinations.
  • He is calling on states to allow Americans ages 65 and up to be immediately eligible, but vowed to stick with the two-dose regimen.

Details: Biden's ability to improve coronavirus vaccinations across the U.S. will largely depend on stronger partnerships with the states, Axios's Caitlin Owens reported.

  • Biden wants to increase supply of the vaccine and spur manufacturing of the materials needed to make it, while providing actionable data on the vaccines to states.

Between the lines: While Biden has praised the Trump administration for "Operation Warp Speed," his entire campaign amounted to a rebuke of Trump's approach to the pandemic.

  • "The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far," he said.
  • He will replace Moncef Slaoui, who led the vaccine effort for Trump, with David Kessler, a former head of the Food and Drug Administration, who is was a member of Biden's COVID-19 task force.
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