‘Operation Warp Speed’ general promises to do better, apologizes for vaccine roll-out

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The general in charge of the rollout of new COVID-19 vaccines developed as part of President Donald Trump’s “Operation Warp Speed” initiative has apologized for “miscommunication” after several states failed to receive their anticipated number of doses.

“I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication. I know that’s not done much these days, but I am responsible and I take responsibility for the miscommunication,” U.S. Army Gen. Gustave F. Perna, the chief operating officer in charge of OWS, said Saturday.

A number of governors said their states had not received the number of doses they initially thought they were going to get.

“So to the governors and the governors’ staffs: Please accept my personal apology. If this was disruptive in your decision making and in your conversations with the people of your great state, I will work hard to correct this,” the four-star general added, Fox News reported.

Vaccines began leaving warehouses en route to the states on Monday after months of planning. President Trump announced in the spring that a vaccine could be available by year’s end, a prediction that turned out to be true despite skepticism from supposed experts and the media.

As doses began to arrive, however, governors and health officials in more than a dozen states said that Pfizer’s next vaccine shipment was slashed from what was initially pledged.

Perna cited a “planning error” but added that “the number of doses available to us to allocate ended up being lower.”

“As we gave forecasts to the jurisdictions and governors, and states worked their priorities against those forecasts, when we had to decide what was going to eventually be shipped out, I had to lower the allocations to meet the releasable doses that were presented to me,” the four-star Army general noted further.

Pfizer managed to ship about 2.9 million doses of its vaccine this week. Also, the Food and Drug Administration granted Moderna an emergency use authorization on Friday, clearing the way for that company to begin shipments of doses.

In all, both companies are preparing to ship 7.9 million doses next week, which are expected to go first to front-line medical and essential workers.

Among the states getting fewer doses than they originally believed they would receive include Washington, California, Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, and Missouri, Fox News noted.

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), a frequent critic of President Trump, complained on Twitter that getting fewer doses than promised is “disruptive and frustrating.”

[email protected] has informed us that WA’s vaccine allocation will be cut by 40 percent next week — and that all states are seeing similar cuts,” he wrote. “This is disruptive and frustrating. We need accurate, predictable numbers to plan and ensure on-the-ground success. No explanation was given.”

As for Pfizer, the company said in a statement later last week that there are no production problems and that millions of doses are currently in a warehouse waiting for instructions on where to send them.

“Pfizer is not having any production issues with our COVID-19 vaccine, and no shipments containing the vaccine are on hold or delayed,” Pfizer said Thursday. “We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.”

Perna reiterated that on Saturday.

“To the best of my knowledge, there has been zero problem with the Pfizer vaccines from going from manufactured to releasable,” he said, adding that OWS officials believe 20 million doses will have been shipped by year’s end.

Jon Dougherty

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