When not attacking the Trump administration for the pace of COVID-19 vaccine distribution, candidate Joe Biden said he’d dramatically accelerate the rate at which Americans got treated. What’s more, he was supposed to be ready on day one. At least, that’s what he and his team kept telling the public.
So why is the growth rate of daily vaccinations decelerating? And why is President Biden now busy making excuses?
Before taking office, Biden stated that he’d directed his team to prepare a “much more aggressive effort, with more federal involvement and leadership, to get things back on track.”
T.J. Ducklo, a spokesman for Biden’s transition, told CNN in early January that “the president-elect believes we must accelerate distribution of the vaccine while continuing to ensure the Americans who need it most get it as soon as possible.”
The Boston Globe reported on Jan. 8 that “President-elect Joe Biden plans to order the distribution of almost all available doses of the COVID-19 vaccines, in a striking departure from the Trump administration’s strategy of holding back roughly half of the stock to ensure those who have been vaccinated would receive their second dose.”
So, what’s happened since Biden took office?
Compare the last 12 days of the Trump administration to the first 12 days of the Biden administration.
From Jan. 8 to Jan. 20, daily vaccination rates shot up 1,130%. On Trump’s last day in office, nearly 900,000 people were immunized, according to the tracking site Our World In Data.
However, from Biden’s inauguration through Feb. 1, the rate of daily vaccines has increased a comparatively much smaller 52%.
Now, you can say that daily vaccinations were already close to their limit when Trump left office. But that’s not what Biden – or his amen chorus in the press – was claiming.
Now, after overpromising the public, Biden and his team are tamping down expectations and making excuses for why the vaccination process isn’t going as smoothly as promised.
For example, Biden at one point had claimed that by the spring, anyone who wanted the vaccine would be able to get it.
Then administration officials pushed that date way back. As Bloomberg reported last week, “Joe Biden’s top advisers lowered expectations for widespread U.S. access to a coronavirus vaccine within weeks, after (Biden) predicted that any American who wanted a shot would soon be able to get one. Last Tuesday, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki told a press briefing that ‘everybody won’t be eligible this spring.’ ”
Team Biden is also blaming Trump for the fact that it still can’t account for roughly 18 million doses that have been sent to the states, yet have gone unused.
But how exactly is it Trump’s fault if blue states are sitting on piles of the vaccine? In California, 2.2 million doses hadn’t been administered as of Monday – which is equal to almost 40% of the vaccines it’s received so far. In New York, a million doses hadn’t been administered, or 34% of the supply it’s received. In the nation’s capital, 45% of vaccines hadn’t been administered, according to federal tracking data that ran through Monday.
Democrats can’t even keep their stories straight. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed that the reason immunizations had slowed in his state was due to lack of supply. “New York has built a vast infrastructure of providers and pop-up sites to get shots in arms quickly and fairly on a massive scale,” Cuomo said. “The only problem – we don’t have nearly enough supply.”
Team Biden says it was “really caught off guard” on this one and blames the Trump administration, naturally.
Biden also said the White House’s previous occupants had no distribution plan at all. “The sad part is the last administration didn’t leave anything. They didn’t leave a plan,” Biden senior adviser Cedric Richmond told CNN the week after taking office.
But as National Review reported, Trump officials held more than 300 transition meetings with the Biden team, and “spent months working with states and cities to improve their coronavirus vaccine rollout plans, and helped set President Joe Biden’s administration on a glide path to its goal of vaccinating 100 million people in 100 days. The Biden officials are simply ‘passing the buck’ and trying to lower expectations, two Trump administration officials said.”
Biden says that what’s needed is a massive new federal spending program to get the vaccines to patients more quickly. But of the $1.9 trillion in Biden’s new COVID-19 spending bill (which would cause total virus relief spending over the past year to top $5 trillion) only $20 billion is for vaccines. Yet Biden is holding that up to fight for a progressive wish-list that includes $350 billion in state bailouts, $170 billion for schools, $20 billion for public transit agencies, and another round of $1,400 checks to millions who don’t need it, and so on.
The president-elect said he would “move heaven and Earth to get us going in the right direction.” So far as president it seems that all Biden’s done is make big promises that he’s having trouble fulfilling.
But let’s given Biden a break. He’s been in the White House for only two weeks. It’s not as though he’s had 50 years of prior experience in government, including eight as vice president, to draw on.
— Written by the I&I Editorial Board