Despite initial optimism form a number of fronts, the Trump administration's Operation Warp Speed COVID-19 vaccine distribution program could take almost ten years to vaccinate enough Americans, according to data analysis conducted by NBC News. Warp Speed, which is led by Vice President Mike Pence, aims to vaccinate 80 percent of the country's population by June 2021, a pace it's currently not on track of achieving.
Per NBC's analysis, three million people would need to be vaccinated each day if the program is to meet its goal. So far, only two million people in the U.S. have gotten their first shots of the vaccine, which has been rolling out over the past two weeks. Bloomberg reports that the U.S. is currently vaccinating an average of 200,000 people a day, despite the efforts to get 11.45 million doses out as soon as possible. Some states are sitting on their supplies, vaccinating people at such a slow rate that Maryland has only used 10.9 percent of its supply, while Ohio and Oregon have used 14.3 percent and 15.3 percent respectively.
"I don't think we're going to be able to distribute the 20 million doses that were promised," said former Food and Drug Administration commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb. "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." The Trump administration previously pledged to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of the year.
Officials have indicated that the complicated storage requirements for the vaccine, uncertainty over supply of more doses, and the strain on health services are to blame for the slow roll-out across certain states so far. "We would like to have better uptake," commented Steve Kelso of Michigan's Kent County Health Department. "We could be sticking more needles in arms."
Meanwhile, Trump has attempted to shift the blame on individual states rather that the federal government. "The Federal Government has distributed the vaccines to the states," he tweeted on Wednesday. "Now it is up to the states to administer. Get moving!"
On Tuesday, President-elect Joe Biden criticized Trump for the slow roll-out of the vaccine amid rising cases and deaths. "After ten months of the pandemic, we still don't have enough testing," he said. "It's a travesty." Biden also doubled down on his own pledge to distribute 100 million vaccine doses in his first 100 days in the White House. "This is going to be the greatest operational challenge we've ever faced as a nation but we are going to get it done," he added.