“The brutal truth is it’s going to take months before we can get the majority of Americans vaccinated,” Mr. Biden said.
It makes political sense for Mr. Biden to lower expectations, and on Capitol Hill, the new president is not getting much of a honeymoon. The No. 2 House Republican, Representative Steve Scalise of Louisiana, said Mr. Biden’s promise to get “100 million shots into the arms of the American people” within his first 100 days in office was insufficient.
“Comments made about vaccine supply and distribution by the White House’s coronavirus czar are old Washington spin,” Mr. Scalise said in a statement. “The fact is the Biden administration inherited contracts for 300 million doses of vaccines for two approved vaccines and two in the final stage of clinical trials.”
The Biden team has been quick to point fingers at what they see as the Trump administration’s failures.
“What we’re inheriting is so much worse than we could have imagined,” said Jeff Zients, the new White House Covid-19 response coordinator, adding, “The cooperation or lack of cooperation from the Trump administration has been an impediment. We don’t have the visibility that we would hope to have into supply and allocations.”
In a display of his oft-stated promise to put federal health experts front and center. Mr. Biden was accompanied in the State Dining Room by Dr. Fauci and Jeff Zients, his Covid-19 response coordinator. Four other officials participated by video: Xavier Becerra, the nominee for health secretary; Vivek Murthy, the nominee for Surgeon General, Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, an adviser on racial equity in health.
Efforts to untangle and speed up the distribution of vaccines — perhaps the most pressing challenge for the Biden administration that is also the most promising path forward — will be a desperate race against time, as states across the country including New York and California have warned that they could run out of doses as early as this weekend.