Top Biden Official: Providers Hoarding Vaccine Doses to Detriment of Patients

Employee Jessica Mueller walks alongside a medical stockpile at the vaccine warehouse where the Pfizer-Biontech Covid-19 corona virus vaccine will be preserved before their distribution on January 08, 2021 in Irxleben, near Magdeburg, eastern Germany. (Photo by Ronny Hartmann / AFP) (Photo by RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images)
RONNY HARTMANN/AFP via Getty Images

A senior adviser to President Joe Biden’s White House coronavirus response team, Andy Slavitt, accused some health care providers Monday of preventing Americans from getting vaccinated by stockpiling doses of the coronavirus vaccine and keeping them in reserve.

Slavitt, the senior adviser to the White House COVID-19 [coronavirus disease] Response Team, told reporters during a briefing on the pandemic:

We believe that some healthcare providers are regularly holding back doses that are intended as first doses and instead keeping them in reserve for second doses for patients. … In some cases, providers are cancelling appointments they could take, preventing Americans from getting their first doses of the vaccine as quickly as it needs to happen.

He went on to say that the Biden administration implemented some changes that will ensure a steady supply of doses for providers, stressing that hoarding “does not need to happen and should not happen.”

Slavitt acknowledged that inconsistent information provided to the states by the federal government about how many doses of the Chinese virus vaccine they would receive each week aggravated the stockpiling issue.

“We completely understand that this has been a direct result of the lack of predictability many states and providers have had regarding how many doses they would receive,” Slavitt told reporters.

Last week, the Biden administration announced that the federal government would provide a continual three-week window into vaccines it will ship.

Referring to the move, Slavitt pointed out:

With this action, states and vaccine providers will more rapidly use their allotment of first doses to vaccinate as many people more quickly and as equitably as possible because they now have the predictability that the second dose will be there when the time comes.

Slavitt’s comments come as the Biden administration is trying to accelerate the pace of vaccinations across the nation and explain to the American people why there is a 19 million difference between the doses that the federal government has delivered and those already administered.

Slavitt told reporters:

We know that even as millions of Americans are getting vaccinated, many who are eligible for the vaccine are still frustrated as they try to make appointments and determine where vaccines are available. … We’ve now delivered 50 million and 31 million have been administered.

He blamed the estimated 19 million difference between the doses delivered and administered on the vaccine program’s slow rollout, which began under the previous administration.

That created a “delay in the people getting their first doses,” Slavitt said. “Not only did it delay first doses, but it created a backlog of second doses that have been sitting in states waiting for the three to four week period to pass before they can be administered.”

Slavitt stressed that the Biden administration expects the efficiency of doses administered to suddenly improve once people start getting their second dose.

Health officials had administered over 60 percent of distributed doses, the adviser said Monday, “up from more than 45 percent when he took office on January 20.”

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