As President Biden settles into the Oval Office, his immediate challenge is fixing America’s botched vaccine rollout.
The current vaccine campaign is not going well. Former President Donald Trump and his administration promised to get 20 million Americans vaccinated and 40 million doses out by the end of 2020. Three weeks into the new year, the country hasn’t reached either goal, based on data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I’ve talked to a lot of experts over the past few weeks about what’s going wrong. They caution that a massive vaccine campaign was always going to be difficult, including in the US. But they point to one major thing Biden can do that Trump didn’t: bring the full powers of the federal government to bear on the issue.
While the Trump administration bought millions of vaccine doses and sent them to states, its efforts by and large stopped there. A Trump official characterized more support as an “invasion” of the states. State and local groups asked for $8 billion for vaccine efforts, but Trump’s White House gave a paltry $340 million. (Congress authorized $8 billion in the stimulus deal passed in late December.)