In a speech from Wilmington, Delaware, Biden noted the Trump administration’s goal to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of December. Two million people have received the vaccine with two days left in the month, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention tracker.
“The Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is falling far behind,” Biden said.
Biden also named new coordinators for supply chain management, vaccinations and testing to his COVID-19 response team.
Bechara Coucair, chief health officer of Kaiser Permanente, will serve as vaccinations coordinator, organizing the delivery of vaccines with state and local officials and ensuring the doses can be administered to the population.
Biden also named Carole Johnson, the commissioner of New Jersey’s Department of Human Services, as testing coordinator.
He said Johnson will “coordinate the federal effort to expand COVID-19 testing and the use of testing for an effective public health response” focusing on expanding testing in schools, nursing homes and other at-risk populations and communities most affected by the pandemic.
Tim Manning, who served as Deputy Administrator for the Federal Emergency Management Agency for Protection and National Preparedness during the Obama administration, will serve as supply coordinator.
In this role, Manning will coordinate federal efforts on “securing, strengthening and ensuring a sustainable pandemic supply chain” to ensure sufficient personal protective equipment, tests, vaccines and other related supplies.
Biden has pledged to distribute 100 million vaccines and encourage mask-wearing during his first 100 days in office.
On Tuesday, he said he would require additional funding from Congress and increased federal involvement in states to carry out the plan, adding that even if 1 million vaccinations were administered each day it would still take months to vaccinate the majority of the U.S. population.
“It will take more time than anyone would like and more time than the promises of the Trump administration. This is going to be the greatest operational challenge we’ve ever faced as a nation,” Biden said. “But we’re going to get it done. But it’s going to take a vast new effort that’s not yet underway.”
He added that his administration would launch a “massive public education campaign” to increase vaccine acceptance, acknowledging that Black, Latino and Native American communities “have not always been treated with the dignity and honesty they deserve by the federal government and the scientific community throughout our history.”
Biden praised Congress for passing a $900 billion coronavirus relief bill that was signed by President Donald Trump on Sunday but said more financial aid will be necessary, as an effort to increase individual payments to $2,000 faced a roadblock in the Senate.
“I’ll propose a COVID action package early next year and challenge Congress to act on it quickly,” he said.