CNN Panel Questions Biden on Vaccines: Can Only Say ‘We’re Getting Our Arms Around This’ for So Long
CNN political director David Chalian suggested Monday that President Joe Biden needs to pick up the pace on providing clarity around his program for distributing Covid-19 vaccines.
During Monday’s White House press briefing, CNN’s Kaitlan Collins asked press secretary Jen Psaki, “Is there at least a ballpark amount that officials are aware of of how much vaccine there is?”
“Our team is working right now,” Psaki responded. “We’ve been here for five days to evaluate the supply so that we can release the maximum amount while also ensuring that everyone can get the second dose on the FDA-recommended schedule.”
She said the confusion surrounding this speaks to “what we’re inheriting from the prior administration, which is much worse than we could have imagined.”
After the briefing, Chalian picked up on that exchange and said, “I really do think the Biden administration — there’s only so much time that you can say it’s day five, or day 12, or day 15, and we’re getting arms around this. On Wednesday, when those health care professionals come before cameras and answer questions about this, they’re going to be hard-pressed not to have their arms around exactly what is the vaccine situation? What is the quantity?”
“I just don’t think you can go too much further into the administration with the answer of ‘We’re still getting our arms around this,'” he added.
Brianna Keilar brought on Collins and said, “This is the question, perhaps, most pertinent to lives of Americans, which is how many vaccine is available in the U.S.? You heard David Chalian saying they can only get away with not knowing the answer to that for so long.”
“I think they realize that,” Collins said. “We know that several officials said they were disappointed what they were left with. But it is raising questions.”
“Our understanding still is that General Gus Perna, who was in charge of the logistics for Operation Warp Speed, which of course was started under the Trump administration, is still around,” she continued. “And so there are questions about what the supply is, what does that look like, because you heard the new CDC director say she does not know, which means she can’t then tell state and local officials. That’s critical information about what exactly they should be expecting.”
Collins added, “It’s a lot to get your arms around. But still, a ballpark figure of clarity is what officials are going to be looking for.”
At one point Keilar recalled the covid briefings during the Trump administration to say “the bar isn’t that high,” while adding, “Eventually, you know, the Biden administration is going to have to stand on its own merits when it comes to its response.”
Gloria Borger said vaccines are clearly the Biden administration’s first big test, noting, “The president has said he will move heaven and earth to get those vaccines into people’s arms, and that is the way early on people will judge him, and I think he understands that.”
You can watch above, via CNN.
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