(Headline USA) President Donald Trump celebrated the expected approval of the first U.S. vaccine for the coronavirus Tuesday as the White House worked to instill confidence in the massive distribution effort that may largely be executed by Joe Biden.
Trump said the expected approvals are coming before most people thought possible.
“They say it’s somewhat of a miracle and I think that’s true,” he declared.
Trump led Tuesday’s White House event celebrating “Operation Warp Speed,” his administration’s effort to accelerate production and distribution of safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19. The first vaccine, from drugmaker Pfizer, is expected to receive endorsement by a panel of Food and Drug Administration advisers as soon as this week, with delivery of 100 million doses — enough for 50 million Americans — expected in coming months.
“Every American who wants the vaccine will be able to get the vaccine and we think by spring we’re going to be in a position nobody would have believed possible just a few months ago,” Trump said.
England began its first vaccinations earlier Tuesday, to great fanfare.
Trump and his aides hope to tamp down skepticism among some Americans about the vaccines and help build the outgoing Republican president’s legacy.
Trump used Tuesday’s event to sign an executive order in which the secretary of Health and Human Services is directed to ensure that Americans have priority access to the vaccine.
A senior administration official said the order would restrict the federal government from delivering doses to other nations until there is excess supply to meet domestic demand, but it was not immediately clear what the practical impact would be.
Tuesday’s “Operation Warp Speed” event featured Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and a host of government experts, state leaders and business executives, as the White House looked to explain that the vaccine is safe and lay out the administration’s plans to bring it to the American people. But officials from Biden’s transition team were not invited.
Biden, who was rolling out his senior health team on Tuesday, said last week that in meetings with Trump administration officials his aides have discovered that “there’s no detailed plan that we’ve seen” for how to get the vaccines out of containers, into syringes and then into people’s arms.
Trump administration officials insist that such plans have been developed, with the bulk of the work falling to states and local governments to ensure their most vulnerable populations are vaccinated first. In all, about 50,000 vaccination sites are enrolled in the government’s distribution system.
But career officials insisted it was still too early to declare victory.
““We don’t want to get out in front of ourselves,” said Army Gen. Gustave Perna, responsible for overseeing the logistical and distribution efforts. “As my father used to say, ‘You can only spike the football when you’re in the end zone.’ Well, what is the end zone described to us here? Shots in arms.”
Speaking in Wilmington, Delaware, Biden promised to distribute “100 million shots in the first 100 days” of his administration — roughly on pace with Trump’s projections for vaccination.
Adapted from reporting by Associated Press.