1st LD: US Health Secretary Azar condemns Capitol violence in resignation letter_china

Grant Boone
January 16, 2021

The interview came on the heels of the Washington Post's new report saying, "When Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar announced this week that the federal government would begin releasing coronavirus vaccine doses held in reserve for second shots, no such reserve existed, according to state and federal officials briefed on distribution plans".

The Trump administration had already begun shipping out what was available beginning at the end of December, taking second doses directly off the manufacturing line.

But a new report reveals the Trump administration that the reserve had already been exhausted when that announcement was made with Pfizer being stopped past year and Moderna last weekend.

On Tuesday, Secretary Alex Azar announced the government would no longer hold back vaccine reserves meant for the second doses of the vaccines, which would practically double the supply to states.

Also referring to the January 6 Capitol violence, Azar said in the letter: "Unfortunately, the actions and rhetoric following the election, especially during this past week, threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this Administration".

'Last night, I received disturbing news, confirmed to me directly by General Perna of Operation Warp Speed: States will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses, ' Oregon Governor Kate Brown tweeted on Friday.

But in his letter, Azar doesn't mention these numbers, the federal government's failure to warn of a pandemic for weeks, or the greatly delayed rollout of tests that public health experts say slowed the United States response during crucial weeks that could have slowed the spread of the virus.

Azar said then that the administration was confident enough in the supply chain to release its stockpile, and urged states to use the additional supply to open inoculations to everyone aged 65 and over. Colorado Governor Jared Polis said he was "extremely disappointed" that Azar had "lied to" his state.

"States were shocked and surprised that they did not see an increase in their allocations, and when they asked for explanations, some of them were told there was not a large stockpile of second doses to draw from", said an official working with numerous states on vaccination planning who spoke on the condition of anonymity to recount sensitive conversations.

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The new FDA analysis emphasized several "known benefits" from the vaccine - including "reduction in risk of confirmed COVID-19 occurring at least seven days after Dose 2".

The announcement regarding the decrease in the distribution has blindsided many officials responsible for administering the vaccine.

"This is deception on a national scale", she added.

Azar also said that states had only ordered 75% of the doses available to them.

Michael Pratt, a spokesman for Operation Warp Speed, also denounced that the supply was "exhausted".

"We are hearing there is not a stockpile of vaccine for second dose but that it was more of a 'paper exercise", said Plescia. "Until there is a more robust supply, we need to be clear with the public that opportunity to get the vaccine is limited". Several states have been informed of the discrepancy, and are now scrambling.

At least one New York City healthcare system, Mount Sinai Hospital, canceled vaccination appointments, and another, NYU Langone Health, suspended new ones amid shortages, officials said.

Despite the vaccine being developed in record time, its distribution has been delayed because the Trump administration gave the responsibility to states to figure out vaccinating its population.

He, like most high-ranking Trump administration officials, will resign Wednesday when President-elect Joe Biden takes office.

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