Biden says Trump 'did not do his job' on coronavirus vaccine programme
US president says the country has ordered another 200 million doses from Pfizer and Moderna
US President Joe Biden on Thursday said the coronavirus vaccination programme he inherited from Donald Trump was in "much worse shape" than he had expected, while urging patience and saying the government has bought 200 million more doses.
"We're not going to have everything fixed for a while, but we're going to fix it," Mr Biden said at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland.
With demand for vaccines far outstripping supply, Americans are struggling to get appointments for their inoculations, leaving Mr Biden with an acute problem less than a month after taking over from Mr Trump.
Mr Biden said Mr Trump, who spent his last two months in office in a futile effort to overturn the results of the November 3 presidential election, did not order enough vaccines and did not do enough to prepare people to be vaccinated.
He said the vaccine programme he inherited was worse than he had anticipated and that his team had been misled about the vaccine supply.
"While scientists did their job in discovering vaccines in record time, my predecessor – I’ll be very blunt about it – did not do his job in getting ready for the massive challenge of vaccinating hundreds of millions," Mr Biden said.
A Trump representative did not immediately respond to a request for reaction to Mr Biden's comments. Mr Trump had expressed pride in the speed of the vaccine development on his watch.
Mr Biden said the US government has signed contracts for 100 million doses of the Moderna vaccine and 100 million more from Pfizer-BioNTech.
"We appreciate the confidence that the US government has demonstrated in our Covid-19 vaccine," Moderna chief executive Stephane Bancel said.
Mr Biden said the US coronavirus death toll is likely to reach 500,000 next month. He urged Americans to wear masks to prevent the spread.
"We've now purchased enough vaccine to vaccinate all Americans," Mr Biden said. The US, which has a population of about 330 million, was on track to have 300 million doses by the end of July, he said.
Updated: February 12, 2021 08:35 AM