Written By: Daniel Roman
Did the Biden Administration deliberately mislead governors and the American People about vaccine supply in order to be able to claim a political win and brag that by Biden’s 100th day in office, “all Americans were eligible for a vaccine”? The evidence suggests they may have–and a full Congressional investigation may be warranted.
With the 100th day of the Biden Administration fast approaching, the White House is determined to spin a narrative of uninterrupted triumph. While there is much to celebrate about the world’s most successful vaccine rollout—thanks to the Trump Administration’s Operation Warp Speed—there is reason to believe that all is not well in Biden-land.
As the Administration prepares to mark the delivery of 200 million shots and promote the extension of vaccine access to all Americans on April 19th, it is increasingly unlikely that the Biden Administration will truly have enough doses to fulfill that promise.
Last week, the Biden Administration quietly slashed allocations of vaccines to the states, virtually guaranteeing a partial vaccine shortage for at least the rest of April and perhaps longer. Rather than providing guidance as to when this shortage might end, the White House is sending doses abroad, and making plans to export even more while brushing off the desperate pleas of America’s governors. One of the loudest of those pleas has come from Michigan’s Democrat Governor, Gretchen Whitmer.
With COVID cases once again surging in the state of Michigan, Governor Whitmer has responded with anger and denunciation. After President Biden rejected her request to reallocate vaccines intended for other states to Michigan on Thursday night, she took to the airwaves to denounce the White House. In appearances on CNN, NBC, and CBS, Whitmer demanded the Biden administration alter its vaccination strategy in order to rush additional doses to her state.
A clash between Governor Whitmer and the White House over COVID strategy is not a novelty. For the past year, it has been Whitmer’s M.O. to blame the President for Michigan’s troubles.
What is unusual is that the President in question is no longer Donald Trump but Joe Biden, who once considered Whitmer as a potential Vice Presidential pick.
By international standards, the American vaccination effort is a triumph, at least when examined at the national level. The United States has delivered 56 shots per hundred inhabitants, just behind the UK at 59, and nearly three times that of Canada, France, and Germany at 22. But these statistics hide glaring disparities at the state level. New Hampshire has delivered 73 shots per hundred inhabitants, whereas Georgia, Alabama, and Mississippi have delivered less than 50. These disparities reflect differences in demand for vaccines between states, but they have also produced issues with availability in some states. New Hampshire has used 958,018 of the 1,003,555 doses delivered by the Federal government, whereas Georgia has used only 4,667,495 of 7,197,345. New Hampshire has a mere 5% of doses left, whereas Georgia has nearly 35% remaining.
If, as the Administration had assured Americans, there would be an ever-increasing supply of vaccines from mid-April that would allow any American who wanted a shot to have one, this would not be a problem. Yet rather than bringing the abundance Biden and his team promised, mid-April now looks as though it may deliver a drought. After shipping 5.5 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine the week of April 5th, the Federal government plans to ship only around 700,000 doses the weeks of April 12th and April 19th. With no corresponding increase in shipments of Moderna and Pfizer, this means that rather than a steady increase, states will be facing an effective 20%-25% reduction in vaccine supplies over the next few weeks, just as they have opened appointments to everyone regardless of age.
Problems with supply may have been unavoidable. Human error at a Baltimore plant ruined nearly 15 million doses of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine, a mistake the Biden Administration cannot be held fully responsible for even if Administration officials were aware of issues at the location weeks ahead of time. What the Biden Administration can be held responsible for, however, is needlessly and artificially creating a national vaccine shortage that is pitting states against each other.
In particular, the Biden Administration urged states to set an earlier deadline for making vaccines available to all ages, moving it from May 1st to April 19th even though Biden’s public health officials must have already been aware of the loss of 15 million Johnson and Johnson doses and the consequent impending shortage. It cannot be a coincidence that April 19th falls just before Biden’s 100th day in office, while May 1st falls just after.
Did the Biden Administration pressure states to expand access with the promise of increased shipments, even when they already knew that vaccine supplies would actually decrease? Did the Biden administration put politics ahead of public health? That is the question that must be investigated.
Moreover, the Biden Administration has pointedly refused to take any steps to alter allocations of what supplies do exist. Currently, the United States government allocates vaccine doses to states based on the total number of inhabitants over age 16, not based on whether or not additional doses are actually needed in a particular location. This is the issue where Governor Whitmer has split with the Biden White House. Under Biden’s allocation scheme, New Hampshire, which has used nearly all of its doses, will proportionally receive the same number of new doses as Mississippi, which has used only 66% of what it already has on hand and currently has 73,000 open appointments. Whitmer has called for the White House to shift vaccines from states with surpluses to states with shortages. She also came perilously close, for a Democrat, to raising the taboo matter of how the Biden administration’s calculations take into account the illegal immigrant population, which ironically disadvantages the citizens of northern blue states, which have comparatively lower numbers of illegal immigrants in their population.
Bizarrely, President Biden has refused to take any action to alleviate a crisis that his prioritization of political considerations over public health concerns has helped to cause.
Meanwhile, it is not just Whitmer’s warning of calamity. California, Maryland, and Virginia are also warning of a threat to their vaccine rollouts. Whitmer may be prone to occasionally crying wolf, but this time the wolf is real, and it is in the White House. President Biden inherited a vaccine program on auto-pilot in the form of Operation Warp Speed. Now, when faced with his first real choice on the vaccine program, he is MIA. Millions of Americans, not just in Michigan but all across the country, will suffer as a result.