Some state leaders feel lied to by the Trump administration about the availability of additional vaccines, believing the federal government was ramping up supplies.
The Denver Channel: Amid Alex Azar’s Resignation, He Admits There Isn’t A Reserve Coronavirus Vaccine Stockpile
As copies of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar’s resignation letter was published online on Friday, Azar conceded in an interview with NBC News’ Lester Holt that there is not a reserve coronavirus vaccine stockpile. Earlier this week, the federal government announced that coronavirus vaccine doses would begin being distributed as soon as they were ready. It turns out that has been the case for some time as the government has not been holding back doses for booster shots. The booster shots come three to four weeks after administering the first dose of the vaccine. (Boggs, 1/15)
Vox: Alex Azar’s Resignation Letter Paints A Misleading Picture Of Trump’s Coronavirus Response
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar this week warned President Donald Trump that, despite what he described as achievements by HHS under his watch, Trump’s “actions and rhetoric following the election … threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this administration.” “The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy,” Azar said in a letter released this week ahead of his departure from the government on January 20. “I implore you to continue to condemn unequivocally any form of violence … and continue to support unreservedly the peaceful and orderly transition of power.” (Peters, 1/16)
The Hill: Governors Say No Additional Vaccine Doses Coming, Despite Trump Admin Promise
Governors are accusing the Trump administration of lying about the availability of additional coronavirus vaccines, following an announcement from top officials that doses will no longer be held in reserve. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said this week the administration would no longer be holding back the second of two doses, and encouraged states to open vaccination eligibility to more people. But governors say there is no reserve and their limited supply of vaccines will not increase. (Weixel, 1/15)
Newsweek: HHS Secretary Alex Azar Calls Governors’ Vaccine Rollout Criticism ‘Completely Misleading’
Secretary of Health and Human Services (HSS) Alex Azar fired back at governors who accused the Trump administration of failing to provide a promised stockpile of new vaccine doses this week.»The letter and assertions of several Democratic governors are completely misleading and are a debasement to the exceptional partnership the President, Vice President, and I have built with the nation’s governors,» Azar tweeted Saturday. (Colarossi, 1/16)
ABC 27: Federal Government Isn’t «Releasing The Entire Supply» Of COVID-19 Vaccines Says Azar
Several governors are accusing the Trump administration of lying that 20 million more doses of the COVID-19 vaccine were about to become available. Earlier this week Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said the federal government was “releasing the entire supply” to states “rather than holding second doses” in reserve. “Operation Warp Speed has asked us to start shipping second doses only recently,” Pfizer said in a statement. Pfizer said they are working “to ensure Americans receive their first and second doses of the vaccine on time.” (Brown, 1/16)
New York Post: HHS Chief Alex Azar Criticizes Biden’s COVID-19 Vaccine Goal
Health and Human Services administrator Alex Azar said Monday if the incoming Biden administration achieves its goal of 100 million shots in arms in the first 100 days, that would be a “squandering of the opportunity” the Trump White House has laid out for them. Incoming White House chief of staff Ron Klain said Team Biden is “inheriting a huge mess” when it comes to vaccine distribution and that they would set a goal of “100 million inoculations in 100 days.” (Moore, 1/18)
NPR: CDC Director Robert Redfield Defends Pandemic Response
Redfield’s departure on Wednesday, when President-elect Joe Biden will usher in a new administration, comes as a record surge in COVID-19 cases is sweeping across the country. The U.S. has far surpassed all other nations with more than 23 million virus-related cases and more than 391,000 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins University. But, even as the pandemic enters its deadliest stage yet, Redfield told NPR on Friday that the country is «about to be in the worst» months of the crisis. As his tenure winds down, the CDC director said in an interview with All Things Considered that he stands by his federal health agency’s response to the pandemic despite what he characterized as an early «learning curve» and conflicting public health guidance from President Trump. (Louise Kelly, 1/15)
The New York Times: Without A National Strategy, U.S. States Were Left To Battle The Virus On Their Own.
For nearly the entire pandemic, political polarization and a rejection of science have stymied the United States’ ability to control the coronavirus. That has been clearest and most damaging at the federal level, where President Trump claimed that the virus would “disappear,” clashed with his top scientists and abdicated responsibility for a pandemic that required a national effort to defeat it, handing key decisions to states under the assumption that they would take on the fight and get the country back to business. (1/18)
Politico: The Crash Landing Of ‘Operation Warp Speed’
As the nation’s Covid-19 response was careening off the rails in March and April 2020, about a dozen top health and defense department officials huddled in antiseptic meeting rooms to devise what they believed would be the Trump administration’s greatest triumph — a vaccine program so fast, so special, so successful that grateful Americans would forgive earlier failures and business schools would teach classes about it for decades. They dubbed their project «MP2,» for a second Manhattan Project, after the race to create the nuclear weapons that ended World War II. Alex Azar, the Health and Human Services secretary who was often at odds with the White House and his own department, sounded like an Army general rallying his troops: “If we can develop an atomic bomb in 2.5 years and put a man on the moon in seven years, we can do this this year, in 2020,» Azar would declare, according to his deputy chief of staff, Paul Mango, who helped lead the strategy sessions. (Diamond, 1/17)
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.