President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr. plans to release nearly every dose of the coronavirus vaccine available “to make sure Americans who need it most get it as quickly as possible,” a sharp break with the Trump administration’s practice of withholding part of the vaccine, Biden’s transition team said on Friday.
“The president-elect believes we need to speed up vaccine distribution while continuing to ensure that Americans who need it most get it as quickly as possible,” said TJ Ducklo, spokesperson for the transition team. .
“He supports the immediate release of available doses and believes the government should stop withholding vaccine supplies so we can get more vaccines in the arms of Americans now. He will share further details next week on how his administration will begin releasing the available doses when he takes office on January 20. “
Since the two vaccines that have emergency approval require two doses, the Trump administration has withheld about half of its supply to ensure those already vaccinated receive the booster dose. But the vaccine rollout has been disrupted from the start.
As of Thursday, the Trump administration had shipped more than 21 million doses of the vaccine, with millions more already in the hands of the federal government. Yet only 5.9 million people had received them. State and local public health officials, already overwhelmed by the rise in infections, have struggled to administer the vaccine to hospital workers and elderly Americans at risk, while most people don’t know when to could be protected.
Releasing the vast majority of vaccine doses goes against the recommendation of Food and Drug Administration officials – experts whose advice Mr Biden has pledged to follow. But a transition official, speaking anonymously to provide insight into the president-elect’s thinking, said he would use the Defense Production Act, if necessary, to ensure enough doses are available.