In his remarks to the National Institutes of Health staff, Biden spoke at length about the pandemic situation his administration inherited in January, noting the difficulties the team has faced in their efforts to move the country toward widespread COVID-19 vaccination.
“While scientists did their job in discovering vaccines in record time, my predecessor—I’ll be very blunt about it—did not do his job in getting ready for the massive challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions of Americans,” Biden said on Thursday. “He didn’t order enough vaccines. He didn’t mobilize enough people to administer the shots. He didn’t set up federal vaccine centers where eligible people could go and get their shots. When I became president three weeks ago, America had no plan to vaccinate most of the country. It was a big mess.”
Later, Biden reiterated the safety of vaccines before giving an update on where things stand now in terms of supply.
By the end of July, Biden said, the U.S. will have 600 million doses. He also pointed to one facet of the expanding vaccine rollout that’s actually now moving faster than initially projected.
“Just this afternoon, we signed the final contracts for 100 million more Moderna and 100 million more Pfizer vaccines,” he said. “And we’re also able to move up the delivery dates with an additional 200 million vaccines to the end of July—faster than we expected. And in further good news, both companies agreed—and we’re now contractually obligated—to expedite delivery of 100 million doses, that were promised by the end of June, to deliver them by the end of May. That’s a month faster. That means lives will be saved. That means we’re now on track to have enough supply for 300 million Americans by the end of July.”
In comments given earlier this week during an interview with Today, Dr. Anthony Fauci—director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases—said he expected “open season” for vaccines to get started at some point in April.
“From then on, it would likely take several more months just logistically to get vaccines into people’s arms so that hopefully—as we get into the middle and end of the summer—we could have accomplished the goal of what we’re talking about,” Fauci said at the time. “Namely, the overwhelming majority of people in this country having gotten vaccinated.”