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During Pfizer plant tour, Biden slams Trump’s failure to secure enough COVID vaccine

By Deighton Acuin

PHOTO: Washington Times

During his tour at Pfizer facility in Michigan, President Joe Biden slammed his predecessor, Donald Trump, for failure to seal enough coronavirus vaccine doses.

“My predecessor -- as my mother would say, God love him -- failed to order enough vaccines,” Biden said Friday, repeating criticism he’s made of Trump.

“Failed to mobilize the effort to administer the shots. Failed to set up vaccine centers,” he added.

In his remarks at the facility, Biden reassured the public the jabs are safe and the administration is ensuring to increase vaccine supplies and inoculation sites. He also tried to rally support his economic stimulus worth $1.9 trillion for pandemic response.

He said there are variables that will affect how long the virus will plague the U.S. but that he believes “we’ll be approaching normalcy by the end of this year. And, God willing, this Christmas will be different than last. But I can’t make that commitment to you.”

Biden’s visit was just his second trip away from the East Coast since taking office last month, following a Tuesday appearance in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, at a CNN town hall. Last week, he toured the National Institutes of Health in Maryland, getting a first-hand look at federal research on the virus.

Since he assumed the White House, Biden ordered 100 million doses from firms Moderna and Pfizer Inc., with a total of 600 million enough to vaccinate 300 million individuals.

The president said Tuesday that Pfizer agreed to speed up shipments after Biden invoked the Defense Production Act, which enables the government to nationalize manufacturing in emergencies.

Despite criticisms on Trump, the current administration has made modest changes to previous vaccine plan. The Biden government is invoking agreements under Trump administration to expand the country’s supply.

The Trump administration last year purchased 200 million doses of Pfizer’s vaccine and obtained options for another 400 million. Trump’s team also secured 200 million doses of Moderna’s vaccine, with options for 300 million more.

On Friday, Pfizer Chief Executive Officer Albert Bourla welcomed Biden, calling him a “great ally” who helped obtain materials to expand capacity. Bourla said his company would use more of its manufacturing capacity and work with new suppliers to step up production of the vaccine it developed with BioNTech SE.

Biden touted the progress of the vaccination, and encouraged Americans with an opportunity to get jabs.

“I can’t tell you a date when this crisis will end but I can tell you we’re doing everything possible to have that day come sooner rather than later,” he said.

Before Friday’s virtual meeting of the leaders of the Group of Seven nations, White House officials on Thursday said the U.S. would immediately commit $2 billion to the international effort known as Covax, which aims to help lower-income countries with vaccines. Biden will pledge an additional $2 billion through 2021 and 2022 on condition that other nations’ fulfill their commitments.

A third vaccine, from Johnson & Johnson, would require only one shot but the administration said Wednesday that it sees its distribution starting out slowly once it’s authorized by the FDA, which will likely happen within a few days of a Feb. 26 meeting to consider the company’s application and clinical data.

The U.S. has given about 1.58 million shots per day over the past week, according to the Bloomberg Vaccine Tracker, up from an average of roughly 900,000 per day in the week before Biden took office. Supply is increasing as Pfizer and Moderna, the other company whose vaccine was granted emergency authorization by the Food and Drug Administration, ramp up their production, as well as efforts led in part by the Biden administration to increase the number of people able to administer vaccines.

If the vaccine is authorized, the administration’s contract would be for 100 million doses by the end of June. White House Covid-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients said Wednesday that those deliveries would begin with just a few million doses and most distribution would be “back-end loaded.”

Biden’s most recent visit to Michigan was during the final stretch of the presidential campaign, on Oct. 31, when he and former President Barack Obama made dueling appearances at rallies in Flint and Detroit. He won the state by more than 154,000 votes, which amounted to a 50.6% to 47.8% victory over Trump. Trump’s narrow 2016 win there, with a 0.23% margin over Hillary Clinton, was the first Republican presidential victory in the state since that of George H.W. Bush in 1988.


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