10 days of struggle: Inside Biden’s early coronavirus vaccine effort

The lack of clarity on vaccine targets underscores that the new administration is still reckoning with the complexity of conducting a mass vaccination campaign — while trying to control the messaging about its timing and scope. Biden’s advisers are scrambling to manage an ever-changing pandemic that has infected more than 26 million Americans, decimated the economy and strained the country’s social fabric — a challenge exacerbated by the patchwork approach they inherited from the previous administration and their early inability to immediately deliver on the full range of their promises.

The new administration has sought to provide better forecasting of vaccine allocation to the states and to outline a more robust federal role in the administering of the shots, enlisting the Federal Emergency Management Agency and taking steps to augment the public health workforce that is able to act as vaccinators.

But in expanding supply — among the most critical hurdles to a return to normalcy — Biden has relied on strides made under the previous administration, hoping that he and his team can help further expedite production and keep the country ahead of dangerous virus variants spreading in the population. Biden’s advisers have maintained that the Trump administration’s strategy was too reliant on existing infrastructure for vaccine delivery, failing to anticipate that state and local authorities would require not just expanded federal funding but also would need more direct coordination and assistance in carrying out immunizations.