Operation Warp Speed chief: ‘Miscommunication’ in Pfizer vaccine rollout

Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna takes responsibility for "miscommunication" about allocation of COVID-19 vaccine doses to states Saturday. File Photo by Chris Kleponis/Pool

Dec. 19 (UPI) — The head of Operation Warp Speed on Saturday said a “miscommunication” about COVID-19 vaccine doses means some states will receive fewer doses than they expected.

Army Gen. Gustave Perna said he took full responsibility for the issue during a news briefing.

“I want to assure everybody, and I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication,” Perna said during the briefing. “Here is the bottom line, I want to make sure that we are 100% committed to fair and equitable distribution to everybody in the United States of America.”

Perna is the chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed, the U.S. government’s public-private partnership to accelerate work on COVID-19 vaccines.

The acknowledgement came after more than 10 states said that the number of Pfizer COVID-19 doses they had been expecting to receive had been cut without explanation.

Perna said he had to revise down the number of vaccine doses allocated to certain states after he got more information from Pfizer about the amount of vaccine available.

Perna added that the “miscommunication” happened because he did not understand all the steps “with exactness” that needed to happen before releasing all the vaccine available.

“There is no problem with the process,” Perna said. “There is no problem with the Pfizer vaccine. There is no problem with the Moderna vaccine. It was a planning error, and I am responsible.”

Perna referred to the Food and Drug Administration as “the gold standard not just in America but around the world,” and said he has to wait until the vaccine doses are releasable in accordance with the agency.

He apologized to the state governors who may have started planning based on the initial doses forecast.

“Please accept my personal apology if this was disruptive to your decision-making,” Perna said, adding that he would personally brief governors Monday.

Perna added that Operation Warp Speed would not “cut corners” in vaccine distribution.

Pfizer released a statement Thursday saying they were not having any production or distribution issues and more doses were available.

“This week, we successfully shipped all 2.9 million doses that we were asked to ship by the U.S. government to the locations specified by them,” the statement said. “We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.

“We remain confident in our ability to deliver up to 50 million doses globally this year and up to 1.3 billion next year, and we look forward to continuing to work with the U.S. government to deliver our vaccine to the American people,” Pfizer added.

While the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine has not been fully approved by the FDA, it has been authorized for emergency use to prevent COVID-19 in individuals 16 years of age and older.

The FDA issued an emergency use authorization for a second COVID-19 vaccine — one made by Moderna.


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