Operation Warp Speed Doc: 90% of Biden vaccine rollout plan was same as Trump's
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Former Operation Warp Speed health adviser Dr. Moncef Slaoui claimed that 90% of the current administration’s coronavirusvaccine rollout plan is the same as what the Trump administration had laid out – despite claims that Biden inherited "no plan."
President Biden’s chief of staff has insisted that the previous administration had no plan to roll out vaccines. CNN released a much-criticized report that Biden’s team was "starting from scratch," but Dr. Anthony Fauci immediately dismissed such claims.
Slaoui joined Fauci in debunking those same claims, instead insisting that the Biden plan is essentially the same plan that the Trump administration laid out.
Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief adviser to Operation Warp Speed, speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House, Friday, Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
"I do think we had plans," Slaoui told CBS’s "Face the Nation" on Saturday. "In fact, 90% of what is happening now is the plan that we had."
"Of course, the first thing was to accelerate the development of the vaccine," Slaoui explained. "We contracted, specifically, 100 million doses of the vaccine, but built into the contracts options to acquire more vaccines once we knew they were effective."
"So, I think what is happening now is right, but I think what is happening was – substantially was the plan."
Slaoui highlighted that the 90% covered "manufacturing, supply and distribution," but he gave credit to using FEMA and sports arenas as mass vaccination sites as good steps to help "accelerate" administration of shots that the plan did not cover.
He also revealed that Operation Warp Speed had held talks with Merck – a competitor to Johnson & Johnson – prior to the new administration taking office about the possibility of utilizing their facilities to bolster the manufacture of the vaccine.
Speaking with host Margaret Brennan, Slaoui lamented a few missteps in the early days of the distribution, saying that more effort should have been focused on educating the public, both on the pace of the rollout and on the safety of the vaccine.
Particularly, he criticized the "politicization" of the vaccine, responding to footage of Fauci and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., sparring over the use of masks even after vaccination.
Slaoui called the use of masks "an act of civility" for people who have not yet been vaccinated.
"I do think that as long as the herd immunity levels have not been maintained, people who have been vaccinated should continue to wear masks," Slaoui said. "What we don’t know yet is if the vaccine prevents replication of the virus."