Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar shot back at President-elect Joe Biden on Sunday after he criticized the Trump administration’s plan for rolling out a coronavirus vaccine.
In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Azar defended the Trump administration’s vaccine plans and said distribution could begin in a matter of days pending approval by the FDA.
“We have comprehensive plans from the CDC working with 64 public health jurisdictions across the country, as our governors have laid out very detailed plans that we’ve worked with them on,” Azar said. “We’re leveraging our retail pharmacies, our hospitals, our public health departments, our community health centers.”
“This is being micromanaged and controlled by the United States military, as well as our incredible private sector,” he added.
Biden on Friday said his team had been in touch with the Trump administration on their vaccine rollout plan but raised concerns over the blueprint. “There is no detailed plan that we’ve seen, anyway, as to how you get the vaccine out of a container into an injection syringe into somebody’s arm,” Biden said.
Azar responded Sunday: “With all respect, that’s just nonsense.”
Still, the administration is likely to only have a fraction of the doses of the vaccine it had hoped to have ready by the end of the year.
Moncef Slaoui, the scientific head of the administration’s Operation Warp Speed effort to speed production of a vaccine, said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” that officials are planning to meet with the Biden-Harris transition team this week.
“We haven’t had the chance yet to sit down with the transition team and explain in detail everything that has been planned and been done,” Slaoui said. “We look forward to that happening. We actually, I think, have a meeting planned later this week. “
“I’m confident that together we will do the best we can to make sure the vaccines are delivered safely and effectively to all Americans,” he said.
An FDA advisory panel, meanwhile, is slated to meet Thursday to consider a vaccine produced by Pfizer before the agency makes a determination on giving the vaccine an emergency authorization. The expert panel will examine a second vaccine from Moderna the following week.
Azar said he’d defer to the FDA, but said he know of no “red flags” with the Pfizer vaccine and sounded an optimistic note that vaccinations could begin soon after.
“Assuming everything is on track and the advisory committee goes well, we could see authorization of the Pfizer vaccine within days after the advisory committee,” Azar said.
“What we’ve said is within 24 hours of FDA greenlighting … we’ll ship to all the states and territories that we work with and within hours they can be vaccinating,” he said.