Utah Sen. Mitt Romney blasted the federal government’s vaccine rollout plan on Friday, saying that “deadly delays” in inoculations have been “inexcusable.”
“That comprehensive vaccination plans have not been developed at the federal level and sent to the states as models is as incomprehensible as it is inexcusable,” Romney, a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said in a statement.
Romney credited the Food and Drug Administration and National Institutes of Health for working with drug companies on the rapid development of the vaccines. But he said that “urgent action” is needed to efficiently distribute doses of vaccines developed by Pfizer and Moderna.
“Unless new strategies and plans are undertaken, the deadly delays may be compounded as broader and more complex populations are added,” said the Republican, who has frequently butted heads publicly with President Donald Trump.
Federal health officials have acknowledged that the vaccine rollout plan has not gone as smoothly as hoped.
The vaccination program is falling woefully behind. With hundreds of thousands of lives at stake, urgent action is needed on a comprehensive vaccination plan that states can use as a model. https://t.co/M6gvUyUKmv
— Senator Mitt Romney (@SenatorRomney) January 1, 2021
Advisers on Operation Warp Speed, the federal program to develop a vaccine, had hoped to inoculate 20 million Americans against coronavirus by year’s end. The New York Times reported that as of Wednesday, Pfizer and Moderna had shipped 14 million doses of their vaccines to states.
According to Bloomberg News, nearly 3.2 million doses of the vaccine had been administered by Thursday afternoon. The number of actual inoculations is likely higher than the Bloomberg tally due to reporting delays from states.
Moncef Slaoui, the top scientist on Operation Warp Speed, said in an interview this week that the number of vaccinations administered so far “is lower than what we hoped for.”
“We know that it should be better, and we’re working hard to make it better.”
Anthony Fauci, a top adviser on Operation Warp Speed, said on Thursday that the vaccine rollout had been “disappointing.”
“There really has to be a lot more effort in the sense of resources for the locals, namely, the states, the cities, the counties, the places where the vaccine is actually going into the arms of individuals,” Fauci said in an interview on “Today.”
President Trump appeared to blame state governors earlier this week for the inept vaccine rollout.
“It is up to the States to distribute the vaccines once brought to the designated areas by the Federal Government,” he tweeted on Tuesday. “We have not only developed the vaccines, including putting up money to move the process along quickly, but gotten them to the states.”
To shore up the vaccination gap, Romney suggested establishing vaccination sites throughout each state to administer vaccines to people based on their priority category and birthdate. He also suggested enlisting retired and active health care professionals to administer vaccines.