CLAIM: “Just over four weeks ago, America had no real plan to vaccinate most of the country.” – President Joe Biden
VERDICT: MOSTLY FALSE. Trump had a plan that was complicated by the diverse policies of state governments.
Biden, speaking at a Pfizer manufacturing facility in Kalamazoo, Michigan, on Friday claimed that President Donald Trump had left him no plan for the distribution of coronavirus vaccines.
“My predecessor, as my mother would say, God love him, failed to order enough vaccines, failed to mobilize the effort to administer the shots, failed to set up vaccine centers. That changed the moment we took office,” Biden claimed.
President Biden is incorrect. As Former Senior Advisor to the Department of Health and Human Services John “Wolf” Wagner confirmed to Breitbart News on Friday there was a vaccine distribution plan far before Biden took office.
In fact, a key component of Operation Warp Speed had been to prepare for distribution long before anyone knew which particular vaccine (if any) would be proven effective.
Biden’s false claims echoes repeated false statements by members of his administration that they were “starting from scratch” on the vaccination effort.
The truth is that Trump’s Operation Warp Speed not only developed vaccines in record times — despite the open scorn of Biden and his running mate, Kamala Harris — but also developed plans to distribute the vaccine across the country.
The Department of Health and Human Services outlined the distribution plan in September 2020. When there were initial problems, thanks in part to confusion over a two-dose system, and in part due to differing state policies, the outgoing administration updated its plan to expand vaccination sites and the number of Americans who were eligible to receive it.
There was also the problem of state reluctance. Democratic governors, such as New York’s Andrew Cuomo and California’s Gavin Newsom, announced that their states would review the efficacy of any vaccine approved by the Trump administration.
The purpose of such announcements was almost entirely political, aimed to reinforce Biden campaign messages claiming that Trump did not care about science.
Still, such announcements complicated distribution plans and made clear that states wanted discretion over how vaccines provided by the federal government were to be administered.
Some states also slowed distribution by aiming at “equity” rather than rapid distribution to seniors. Conservative states like West Virginia and South Dakota led the pack; deep-blue California was dead last in vaccine distribution efficiency.
The day the Biden administration took office, it began leaking claims that Trump had no plan in place. CNN, citing sources in the new administration, claimed on January 21 — Biden’s first full day in office — reported that “Newly sworn in President Joe Biden and his advisers are inheriting no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to speak of from the Trump administration.” CNN quoted an anonymous source: “We are going to have to build everything from scratch.”
Biden’s White House Chief of Staff, Ron Klain, made a similar claim recently — and left-leaning PolitiFact rated it “mostly false.”
The goal of such claims is apparently to deny Trump any credit for the vaccine program. Biden claims credit, for example, for a promise of distributing 100 million doses by the end of his first 100 days in office. But the Trump administration had already announced in November that 100 million doses would be provided in the early months of 2021.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is How Not to Be a Sh!thole Country: Lessons from South Africa. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.