Infectious Disease

Biden Inoculation Plan Exhibits “Willingness To Use Federal Property”

January 20, 2021

4 min read

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Days before his inauguration US President Alreadyseph R. Biden Jr. presented its COVID-19 vaccination plan, which provides for the creation of further vaccination centers and is supported by the federal government with the help of FEMA and the National Guard.

Among other things, the plan also provides for the mobilization of more staff to manage shots. The plan came out under widespread criticism that the adoption of US vaccines was slow.

Amesh A. Adajla

Healio spoke to Amesh A. Adajla, MD, Senior Scientist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security on the plan and what still needs to be done to address a worsening pandemic.

Q: What do you think are the main differences in the Biden plan?

A: The main difference is that what we saw in the Trump administration was basically a last mile shift in vaccination towards the states to turn a vaccine into a vaccination that the federal government really doesn’t have much influence on or did not have much support or gave some sort of delay in the introduction of some handover separations between federal government in state governments as we have seen. What you see in the Biden Plan is a willingness to use federal goods like FEMA and the National Guard to help states turn those vaccines into vaccinations, and to have mobile units that the federal government really gets involved in the real thing Process of vaccinating people, not just delivering vaccines to the state. So it seems to be a much more active and cooperative role with states than we have seen in the past.

Q: How feasible is it to involve FEMA and the National Guard in the distribution of the vaccines?

A: I don’t think we traditionally had to do this earlier, but I think this is an extraordinary time. We have seen that states that tried to implement their own plan did not really translate into very rapid vaccination rates. There are now countries like Israel and the United Arab Emirates that have really been able to vaccinate larger parts of their population. So I think we need to see this project of vaccinating the country as some kind of martial effort with all hands on deck. If governments change and it will be different, it will be different in every state where the needs are also different. I think using assets like FEMA makes sense. The COVID-19 pandemic is a disaster, and that is exactly what FEMA is supposed to be addressing. It was founded to manage disasters and I think it makes sense. If they can mobilize teams to provide people with vaccines and set up vaccination clinics that are more like vaccination sites than what is happening in general right now – where it’s an appointment-based system – that’s a good thing.

Q: The Washington Post reported last week there were no reserve doses when the government announced it would be releasing reserve doses to speed up vaccinations. Are cans made fast enough?

A: I don’t really understand what happened there. This was clearly another example of misunderstanding and lack of transparency on the part of the federal government, as most of the people believed that the Secretary’s statement would lead to more doses for states. I mean it was a decision that was really only made on paper and not really resolved or translated into more doses that were shipped. It’s more like, “Oh, this will be our policy for the future,” and it was kind of insincere that it was not announced that there was no more vaccine shipping because states started to expand their eligibility, states started to expected them to get more doses, and then there weren’t any. It was another unfortunate example of how the federal government is really communicating with the public about the real status of the vaccines.

Q: The Wall Street Journal reported Operation Warp Speed ​​officials waited more than two months to approve the rollout plan and abandoned states. How many of the problems with vaccine adoption are planning issues and how many are manufacturing issues?

A: I think it’s almost 100% planning related. What we do know is that many states have doses that they cannot give because there has not been enough planning on how states could do it. We also know that states are underserved and state health departments are underserved. They also run testing and contact tracing while on a vaccination program, and they just aren’t physically able to do all of these things at the same time. Many of us advocated planning much, much earlier than it probably actually started, and more funding, and the funds didn’t really come through until Christmas weekend when the bill was signed, but the vaccination program had already started on Christmas weekend.

Q: What’s the number 1 thing that can be done right now to get vaccine doses into more arms?

A: We have to move on to mass vaccination and we have to somehow get away from the bureaucratic process or you have to make an appointment and then they will check your priority group and all that kind of friction in the system.

Also, we really just need to think about getting vaccines into people’s arms and not allowing all of these other things to become obstacles to it. We just need to change the whole paradigm of how this is done and move to some kind of mass vaccination model to make sure it is done. It all depends on whether the supply chain is intact and whether the cans are flowing to make it happen.

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