Washington, Dec 29 (efe-epa).- President-elect Joe Biden on Tuesday lambasted President Donald Trump for delays in the distribution of the vaccine against Covid-19 and promised that, when he takes office on Jan. 20, 2021, he will use a law dating back to the Cold War to force the private sector to accelerate the process.
“The Trump administration’s plan to distribute the vaccine is falling behind – far behind,” Biden said in an address from Wilmington, Delaware, where he lives.
“As I long feared and warned, the effort to distribute and administer the vaccine is not progressing as it should,” he said, adding that, if the current pace of vaccinations continues, “it’s going to take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”
Biden thanked all those who have worked to distribute the vaccines developed by Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna quickly, including scientists, doctors and Pentagon staffers, but he said that the plan designed by the Trump administration – dubbed “Operation Warp Speed” – is not moving forward as it should.
He said that weeks ago, the Trump administration said that 20 million Americans would be vaccinated by the end of December, but with just a few days left in the month only a few million have received the first dose.
So far, just 2.1 million people in the US have received the first dose of the two-shot vaccine series against Covid-19, according to the government Centers for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC).
The US population currently stands at about 330 million.
In addition, on Twitter, the Health and Human Services Department said Tuesday that 19.88 million doses have already been reserved but that does not mean that they have been distributed to all 50 states yet.
Biden reiterated, as he had said at the beginning of this month, that his aim is to ensure that 100 million people receive the first dose of the vaccine within the first 100 days of his term.
“I’m going to move heaven and earth to get us going in the right direction,” he said.
He said if Congress will provide the funds for the effort, the 100 million target can be reached, but it will require five to six months of vaccination at the current pace to get to the one million per day level.
He said that he would be “more aggressive” and would invoke the Defense Production Act, a 70-year-old federal law, to “order” the private sector to speed up the manufacture of the necessary materials and equipment to provide the vaccine, including personal protective equipment for health care workers administering it.
The Defense Production Act dates to the beginning of the Korean War in 1950 and allows the president to mobilize resources from the private sector via the Pentagon to respond to specific situations.
The slow roll-out of the vaccination campaign comes amid an increase in Covid hospitalizations in the US, which on Monday registered a record 121,235 patients hospitalized for the disease, of whom 22,592 are in intensive care units, according to the Covid Tracking Project.
The United States is the country that has been hardest hit by the pandemic with more than 19.3 million confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 335,000 deaths from Covid-19, according to the independent tally being kept by The Johns Hopkins University.