At the start of the month, the federal government set an ambitious goal of distributing 20 million coronavirus vaccines throughout the US. But as the year comes to a close, the US came well short of that goal.
As of late Thursday night, a total of 12.4 million vaccines have been distributed across the US. Of those, just 2.8 million have been administered.
The rollout has caused disappointment from health officials, and finger pointing between state and federal officials.
One of those who expressed disappointment was Dr. Anthony Fauci.
“We would’ve liked to have seen it run smoothly and have 20 million doses into people today, by the end of the 2020, which was the projection. Obviously, it didn’t happen and that’s disappointing,” Fauci said on Thursday’s edition of NBC’s Today Show.
“Hopefully, as you get into the first couple of weeks in January, the gaining of momentum will get us to the point where we want to be,” Fauci added.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, the chief adviser for Operation Warp Speed agreed that the federal rollout has been slow.
"We agree that that number is lower than what we hoped for… we know that it should be better, and we're working hard to make it better,” he said.
Making the situation messier is that some are declining the vaccine. On Wednesday, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said data suggested that a majority of the state’s nursing home workers were declining the first dose of the vaccine.
This has caused instances of those administering the vaccine are left with excess doses. In Kentucky, Walgreens employees had doses set to expire. Store workers opted not to follow protocol and administered the vaccine to employees, first responders and others.
So far in the month of December, there have been over 70,000 coronavirus-related deaths in the United States. Given that the two coronavirus vaccines currently authorized to be used in non-clinical settings have a 95% efficacy rate, there is an urgency among public health experts to get the vaccines into the arms of Americans.
Earlier this week, the White House defended its rollout of the vaccine.
"President Trump’s Operation Warp Speed has developed safe and effective vaccines 5 times faster than any similar effort in history, and he has already made the vaccines free for all Americans," the White House said in a statement. "Nearly 20 million first doses have been allocated to States for immediate delivery and administration at their direction, and this process is progressing rapidly. Hundreds of millions of doses have been secured to be delivered over the months to come. The President has used the Defense Production Act 18 times in connection with Operation Warp Speed and will continue to employ it wherever possible to accelerate vaccine manufacturing and save lives. While partisan critics offer nothing but empty rhetoric to frighten Americans for political ends, President Trump delivers results. Our country’s brightest days are ahead thanks to President Trump’s relentless pursuit of safety and prosperity for all."
It should be noted that it has been more than 100 years since a pandemic of this magnitude has spread through the United States.