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President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday criticized the Trump administration for "falling behind" on distributing coronavirus vaccines, saying that with "only a few days left in December, we've only vaccinated a few million so far."

The big picture: Biden also pleaded with Americans to wear a mask and take other steps to contain the spread of the coronavirus, reiterating his warning that "things will get worse before they get better."

Context: Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told CNN on Tuesday that Operation Warp Speed will not reach its goal of having 20 million Americans receive the coronavirus vaccine by the end of December.

What he's saying: "The Trump administration's plan to distribute vaccines is falling behind. Far behind," Biden said after a briefing from his COVID-19 advisory team.

  • "We're grateful to the companies, the doctors, the scientists, the researchers, the clinical trial participants, and operation warp speed for developing the vaccines quickly. But as I long feared and warned the effort to distribute the vaccine is not progressing as it should," he added.
  • "We need to scale up testing so anyone who needs one can get a test. After ten months of the pandemic, we still don't have enough testing. It's a travesty."
  • Biden said Americans can save thousands of lives "if we just step up together, wear a mask, socially distance, wash our hands, avoid large indoor gatherings."
  • "I know all these are not easy to ask, but I'm asking for you to make a sacrifice. You're already making tremendous sacrifices every single day. It's hard on your lives and your livelihoods and your kids and your families. It's not small what we're asking of you, but we're in this together."
  • “We’re going to get through this, brighter days are coming, but it’s going to take all the grit and determination we have as Americans to get it done.”

Trump defended his administration's vaccine rollout in a tweet later on Tuesday, saying it "is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government."

  • "We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten them to the states."

Go deeper: Biden adviser says he will invoke Defense Production Act to increase vaccine supply

Go deeper

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

Ex-CDC director Tom Frieden on the next COVID-19 vaccines

Americans fortunate enough to receive COVID vaccines now, outside of clinical trials, are getting shots made by either Pfizer or Moderna. But newly released data from Novavax and Johnson & Johnson suggests that more vaccines could be on the way, with J&J's requiring a single dose.

Axios Re:Cap digs into the news and why it matters with Tom Frieden, former head of the CDC, as COVID-19 variants spread globally.

How Tampa Bay is managing unused COVID vaccines

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

With so much anxiety surrounding how hard it is to get the coronavirus vaccine, a question has been lingering in many of our minds: What happens when people don't show up for their shots?

The big picture: A relatively small amount — 3,444 doses, or 0.1% of the 3 million vaccines the state has received — has been wasted.

Jan 29, 2021 - Health

WHO says most pregnant women can now receive coronavirus vaccine

A doctor administering Moderna's coronavirus vaccine at a university hospital in Essen, Germany, on Jan. 18. Photo: Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

The World Health Organization has altered its guidance for pregnant women who wish to receive the coronavirus vaccine, saying now that those at high risk of exposure to the COVID-19 or who have comorbidities that increase their risk of severe disease, may be vaccinated.

Why it matters: The WHO drew backlash for its previous guidance that did not recommend pregnant women be inoculated with vaccines made by Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna, even though data indicated that pregnancy increased the risk of developing severe illness from the virus.