Lester Holt Confronts HHS Sec. Azar on Problems With Vaccine Rollout: ‘What Went Wrong?’


Lester Holt confronted Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on NBC Nightly News Friday about issues with the coronavirus vaccine rollout.

The interview came on the heels of the Washington Post’s new report saying, “When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans.”

After Azar talked about “tremendous success” with the rollout, Holt said, “You seem to be laying the blame at the feet of governors, but I’ll remind you that it was the Trump administration that said 20 million doses by the end of 2020. We’re two weeks into the new year. What went wrong?”

“We said we would have doses available for 20 million people that could be available,” Azar responded, calling that “a projection based on estimates of when FDA would approve.”

Holt remarked that he’s offering “a pretty rosy assessment,” and added, “But there are folks watching right now who are in the eligibility list right now, they can’t get through on crashing websites, they can’t make appointments on phones… What do you say to those folks right now who are at their wit’s end on this?”

Azar said that there are 38 million doses available and 31 million distributed right now, and encouraged governors to use “other channels of distribution that people are used to.”

As for the Post report, Azar said, “No, there’s not a reserve stockpile. We now have enough confidence that our ongoing production will be quality and available to provide the second dose for people. So we’re not sitting on a reserve anymore, we’ve made that available to the states to order.”

You can watch above, via NBC.

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Josh Feldman is a Senior Editor at Mediaite. Email him here: josh@mediaite.com Follow him on Twitter: @feldmaniac