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Team Biden says Trump's COVID plan was worse than they realized

"There is nothing for us to rework," one member of Team Biden was quoted saying. "We are going to have to build everything from scratch."
Image: A healthcare worker prepares a Pfizer coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccination in Los Angeles
A healthcare worker prepares a Pfizer Covid-19 vaccination in Los Angeles on Jan. 7, 2021.Lucy Nicholson / Reuters

President Joe Biden took some preliminary steps on addressing the coronavirus pandemic on his Inauguration Day, including re-engaging the United States with the World Health Organization. He'll go further today, beginning implementation of a new national strategy, which as a New York Times report noted, "includes aggressive use of executive authority to protect workers, advance racial equity and ramp up the manufacturing of test kits, vaccines and supplies."

But part of getting to work means taking office and coming to terms with the work done by their predecessors.

"What we're inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined," Jeff Zients, the new White House COVID-19 response coordinator told reporters yesterday.

CNN had a related report, quoting members of Biden's team saying the Trump administration had "no coronavirus vaccine distribution plan to speak of."

The Biden administration has promised to try to turn the Covid-19 pandemic around and drastically speed up the pace of vaccinating Americans against the virus. But in the immediate hours following Biden being sworn into office on Wednesday, sources with direct knowledge of the new administration's Covid-related work told CNN 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 under former President Donald Trump, even weeks after multiple vaccines were approved for use in the United States.

One source told CNN, "There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch."

Another added that the Biden administration would have to essentially start from "square one" because there simply was no plan.

It's possible, of course, that incoming officials are realizing how difficult it will be to meet the new president's vaccination goals, and they're laying the rhetorical groundwork to avoid blame.

The trouble is, these claims are entirely consistent with everything else we know about the Trump administration's indifference and dysfunction when it came to crafting a vaccination plan.

Dr. Bruce Gellin, a former Health and Human Services vaccine official and president of global immunization at the Sabin Vaccine Institute, told the Wall Street Journal last week, in reference to Trump administration officials, "They didn't plan for the last inch of the last mile, the part that matters most -- how you're going to actually vaccinate that many people quickly."

It's a failure in governance that defies defense.