She gave two answers at today’s briefing which I can’t square. One: She acknowledged that a Democratic White House is poorly positioned to convince Republican vaccine skeptics to get their shots, which is true.
Jen Psaki, truth teller. When asked about vaccine hesitancy among Trump supporters, she admits “we may not be the most effective messenger to communicate with hardcore supporters of the former President”. pic.twitter.com/f8DFxeD6EN
— Mike Sington (@MikeSington) March 12, 2021
Two: Invited to remind those Republican skeptics that their hero had a major role in this vaccination program, she passed. The most she could bring herself to do is credit a “Herculean, incredible effort by science and by medical experts.”
Psaki on Biden not crediting Trump in COVID address: "Americans are looking for facts. They're looking for details. They're looking for specifics. I don't think they're worried too much about applause from six months ago when the president has already delivered that publicly." pic.twitter.com/zN34hI7D9y
— CBS News (@CBSNews) March 12, 2021
I don’t get it. Biden’s going to be president when the pandemic ends and will be able to take as many nationally televised victory laps as he likes. Right now he should be pulling every lever of persuasion he can think of to increase the public’s willingness to get immunized. If that means sharing credit with a politician he detests to bring in people on the other side, that’s what it means. It’s for a greater good.
And it would be nice as a matter of decency to acknowledge the hard work by officials under Trump who moved mountains to get the vaccine to the public with unprecedented speed. Veterans of the Trump administration remain mystified by Team Biden’s insistence on badmouthing the vaccination infrastructure they erected.
“Honestly I find that unwarranted, unwise and un-understandable,” said [Operation Warp Speed director Moncef] Slaoui, who resigned at the Biden administration’s request. “I’m amazed that people felt the need to belittle the work that was done.”…
“What we see now in terms of vaccine manufacturing — I don’t think there’s any impact from the new administration,” said Slaoui, who had been chief scientific adviser to the federal government’s vaccine accelerator. “These are natural progressions in scaled-up manufacturing capacity, where you gain more knowledge of your process, you understand which cycles you can shorten and you become more confident in publicly expressing commitments.”…
“The only thing I can discern that they’ve added to our playbook was the FEMA-run mass vaccination centers,” [former HHS deputy Paul] Mango concurred. “Good idea, if you have enough vaccines to do it. We didn’t have enough in the early days.”
Team Joe is expanding the “playbook,” in fairness. This NYT piece lists multiple new steps they’re taking to boost the speed of vaccinations. There’ll be a new government website and call center to make it easier to schedule an appointment. More locations for vaccinations will soon be available too, from federal centers to community hubs to pharmacies. And the number of people eligible to administer shots is expanding today to include medical personnel like dentists and veterinarians. Asking for Team Trump to be given its due isn’t a way to deny Team Biden credit for its success. It’s a way to make the success of the national program bipartisan, in the belief that that’ll ease some of the ideological resistance.
You could understand, if not excuse, Biden’s administration for wanting to denigrate what Trump’s administration achieved if the U.S. were underperforming on vaccinations. In that case politics would require some buck-passing: Blame the Republicans, not us, for the slow progress we’ve made. But we’re past that stage of uncertainty. News broke this afternoon that the U.S. administered its 100 millionth dose of vaccine today:
BREAKING: CDC now reports more than 100,000,000 coronavirus vaccinations in the US. pic.twitter.com/ak34ZLoUun
— NBC News (@NBCNews) March 12, 2021
That’s slightly more doses than have been administered by China and the EU — combined. We also set a single-day record for doses administered:
NEW: Record 2.92 million vaccinations reported today, including record 240,000 Johnson & Johnson doses.
We keep going.
— Andy Slavitt (@aslavitt46) March 12, 2021
If we can inch that up to 3.3 million per day, which seems doable as supply and distribution continue to increase, we’ll be partially (or fully, in the case of Johnson & Johnson) vaccinating one percent of the entire population every 24 hours. We’re already doing well enough — knock wood — to have avoided the wave of infections that the British variant has triggered across Europe:
Truly what on earth is happening with Europe pic.twitter.com/UaVooXTAzT
— Derek Thompson (@DKThomp) March 12, 2021
Maybe the EU is just unlucky in having had the variant proliferate earlier locally than we did, but the faster pace of vaccinations in the U.S. must be helping to tamp down infections. More than 60 million Americans, nearly 20 percent of the population, have been partially immunized already via shot. That’s closed down a lot of pathways for the virus to travel. Same goes for the UK, which has also vaccinated people aggressively and where cases are now in free fall despite the trouble on the continent. (The last time the seven-day average in cases was as low in Great Britain as it is right now was late September.) We *may* have succeeded well enough already with our vaccination program to have headed off a fourth wave of the disease, in which case the worst of the pandemic is officially behind us. So why not celebrate that as a bipartisan win? Share the credit and you’re destined to make more people in a divided country want to participate in the program’s success by getting immunized. It’s a great national achievement. Emphasis on “national.”