Governors across the country have been frustrated for the past two days with the Trump administration’s inept distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine created by Pfizer-BioNTech. They say the number of doses they expected was cut by nearly half in some cases, and they were left in the dark as to why until a federal official took responsibility on Saturday.
“There are millions of Pfizer vaccines, many right here in Portage, Michigan, that are waiting to be shipped,” Whitmer said during a news conference. “But the feds are slow-walking the process of getting the addresses to Pfizer for some reason I cannot get an answer to.”
She continued, “We have Michigan hospitals and nursing homes ready to administer this vaccine. And the bottleneck appears to be the White House. And I can’t get an answer why.”
On Thursday Washington Gov. Jay Inslee also tweeted his displeasure with the government. “This is disruptive and frustrating,” Inslee wrote. “We need accurate, predictable numbers to plan and ensure on-the-ground success.”
Our state remains committed to getting all doses we are allocated out to healthcare providers and into the arms of Washingtonians.
While we push for answers, that commitment will not change.
— Governor Jay Inslee (@GovInslee) December 17, 2020
Pfizer confirmed what Whitmer, Inslee and other governors are reporting. They have plenty of vaccine on hand, but the federal government has not told the company where to ship them.
“This week, we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the U.S. Government to the locations specified by them,” Pfizer said in an official statement. “We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.”
On Saturday, the Operation Warp Speed chief operating officer, Army Gen. Gustave Perna, issued a mea culpa, saying that he overestimated the number of vaccine doses that will be available to states next week. Originally, the number was 7.3 million, but Perna now says only 4.3 million doses will be available.
“It was a planning error, and I am responsible,” Army Gen. Gustave Perna said, according to Politico. “We’re learning from it. We’re trying to get better.”
Perna says the numbers differ because he failed to account for the time required to get all of the vaccine doses approved to be distributed. This mistake led to some states like Illinois seeing a near 50 percent reduction in the number of doses expected.
In response to Perna’s admission, Illinois Gov. Jay Pritzker blasted the Trump administration for taking so long to come clean.
“For days, the Trump administration tried to cover up their mistakes and pushed back on the truth,” he said in a statement obtained by NBC Chicago. “The state of Illinois appreciates that the federal government has finally decided to explain what happened to the people of this nation, and we would urge officials involved in this rollout to recommit themselves to honesty and transparency.”