On Friday of last week, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, was asked if President-elect Joe Biden‘s goal of administering 100 million COVID-19 vaccines in 100 days was feasible. He responded:
“We’ve discussed it with the Biden team, and we think it’s quite feasible that we can do that. Right now, even now, we’ve gone from half a million a day to 750,000 a day. I believe strongly that it’s doable — and if we do it, stay on target to get the overwhelming majority of the country vaccinated.”
This kind of prognostication, even if fantastic, is an admirable goal. It forces Mr. Biden to show what he’s got after months and months of standing on the sidelines critiquing the Trump administration for vaccine distribution mismanagement.
Another part of Mr. Biden‘s plan is a rumored soon-to-be-announced multibillion-dollar ad campaign in service of the roll-out, aimed at convincing Americans to get their shots. But all the Madison Avenue bits and bytes won’t do any good if good logistics are not put in place. And at the state level, where the distribution burden falls, the evidence so far indicates there is much work to do.
For instance, there are now multiple reports of vaccines having gone to waste because of poor planning. Smart supply-chain management is needed to keep the cold storage COVID-19 vaccines need to stay viable. Throwing away life-saving doses because of bureaucratic mismanagement is a sin that must be stopped, and more than likely only stopped through federal assistance.
A successful national immunization campaign will take the mobilization of private and public sector, military and civilian, federal and state, left and right. It will also take political concentration and discipline, both of which are in short supply since the events of Jan. 6.
If Mr. Biden wants to make good on his promise and stem the tide of the thousands of Americans dying each day, he cannot take his eyes from this mission, even if party politics threaten to draw him into pettier squabbles. This will be Mr. Biden‘s first real test as president and will likely set the tone for the rest of his time in office. Let’s hope his actions meet his rhetoric.
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