This isn’t the time to undermine Biden on vaccines

January 13, 2021

This isn’t the time to undermine Biden on vaccines

By Marian W. Wentworth

The article was originally published in the Washington Post.

Leana S. Wen’s Jan. 11 op-ed, “Biden’s problematic vaccine plan,” ignored the realities of vaccine manufacture and administration and undermined the Biden administration before it begins. Having led launches of novel vaccines and products, I know that the expectation that every available dose would be in an arm within a few short weeks of product approval was unreasonable from the start. Even when fully funded and carefully planned, launches are messy. Just as a racecar does not reach maximum speed with the first press of the accelerator, so, too, the most massive vaccination program the nation has ever seen has a start-up time. In fact, on a population basis, the U.S. vaccination rate post-approval is tracking similarly to the United Kingdom’s. I am not content with this; we could and should strive to do better — and we will. 

The Biden administration’s senior advisers are discussing decreasing the proportion of vaccines held in reserve for second-dose vaccination. The initial amount reserved was based on assumptions, but we now have real information and can adjust accordingly. We believe we will have reliable additional vaccine supplies. With thousands dying and hundreds of thousands of new infections every day, we need to act boldly. There is no time for back-seat drivers.