It’s been more than a month since the first COVID-19 vaccine was approved for distribution, and nearly a year since it became clear the coronavirus pandemic would require a vaccine to fully end. But former President Donald Trump’s administration still failed to arrange a usable plan for distributing COVID-19 vaccines to Americans, as President Biden’s incoming administration reportedly just discovered.
Biden’s team expected to find major flaws in Trump’s distribution plans when they arrived at the White House on Wednesday, sources with direct knowledge of the administration’s COVID-19 work tell CNN. But “one of the biggest shocks that the Biden team had to digest during the transition period was what they saw as a complete lack of a vaccine distribution strategy,” CNN reports. As one source put it, “There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch.”
Biden campaigned on the promise of swiftly reversing the Trump administration’s hands-off approach to handling the virus. The new president did take a small step in that direction Wednesday, signing an executive order mandating people wear masks on federal property and moving to make the federal government the command center for vaccine and testing distribution and administration. But Wednesday’s reported discovery reveals it’s going to be a lot harder than just changing attitudes around social distancing. And as one source told CNN, the lack of a plan “is just further affirmation of complete incompetence” by the Trump administration.
Jeff Zients, the Biden administration’s COVID-19 czar, said as much on Wednesday, telling reporters that “what we’re inheriting from the Trump administration is so much worse than we could have imagined.” Still, as one official leading the COVID-19 response conceded to The Daily Beast, “At least we won’t have a president that’s actively fighting those rules on national television.”