Washington

Harris contradicts Fauci, says administration ‘starting from scratch’ on vaccine distribution


Vice President Kamala Harris said the Biden administration is “starting from scratch” on COVID-19 vaccine distribution, apparently contradicting earlier comments from Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been the top White House coronavirus adviser during the Biden and Trump administrations.

During an “Axios on HBO” episode that aired Sunday, Mrs. Harris was asked by reporter Mike Allen to describe the challenges faced by the Biden administration surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

“There was no stockpile … of vaccines,” the vice president responded, throwing her hands up. “There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to states and local leaders to try and figure it out. So, in many ways we’re starting from scratch on something that’s been raging for almost an entire year.”

Mrs. Harris‘ comments came Wednesday following a closed meeting with mayors from the African American Mayors Association to discuss President Biden’s American Rescue Plan.

The comments appeared to contradict Dr. Fauci, a top medical adviser on the White House coronavirus task force, who said at White House press briefing last month that the Biden administration was “certainly” not starting from scratch on vaccine distribution, Axios reported.

On Jan. 21, one day after Mr. Biden’s inauguration, Dr. Fauci was asked whether the new administration was “starting from scratch with the vaccine distribution effort” or “picking up where the Trump administration left off.”

Dr. Fauci answered at the time, according to a White House transcript: “No, I mean, we certainly are not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution. But if you look at the plan that the president has put forth about the things that he’s going to do — namely, get community vaccine centers up, get pharmacies more involved; where appropriate, get the Defense Production Act involved, not only perhaps with getting more vaccine, but even the things you need to get a good vaccine program — for example, needles and syringes that might be more useful in that. So it’s taking what’s gone on, but amplifying it in a big way.”

Mrs. Harris‘ comments sparked a flurry of criticism on social media after Axios highlighted the apparent contradiction in a tweet. Axios has since deleted the tweet without explanation.

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