The official in charge of logistics for Operation Warp Speed apologized Saturday for “miscommunication” surrounding this week’s vaccine rollout after several governors said they’re receiving fewer doses than promised.
“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,” Gen. Gustave F. Perna said.
“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 vaccine rollout began Monday, but governors and health officials in more than a dozen states said the next shipment of Pfizer’s vaccine has been cut from what was originally promised.
Nurse Kayla Mitchell, left, of Maine Medical Center’s COVID ICU unit in Portland, Maine, becomes the first person in the state to receive the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine, Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020. (Derek Davis/Portland Press Herald via AP)
Perna called it a “planning error” and said Saturday 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,” Perna said.
Pfizer shipped out 2.9 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine this week, and the FDA granted emergency use authorization to Moderna Friday night.
Between the two companies, 7.9 million doses are set to be shipped next week.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee said Thursday that his state is receiving 40% fewer doses than projected, calling the cut “disruptive and frustrating.”
The reduction was due to the difference in vaccine doses produced and doses that completed quality control, Inslee said Friday.
California, where coronavirus cases are currently surging, will also see a roughly 40% cut, which equals about 160,000 fewer doses than originally planned.
Iowa, Michigan, Georgia, Missouri and other states also said they are now getting fewer doses than they thought they would.
Pfizer said this week that there haven’t been problems with its vaccine production, and that there are actually millions of doses sitting in a warehouse awaiting shipping instructions.
“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 in a statement Thursday. “We have millions more doses sitting in our warehouse but, as of now, we have not received any shipment instructions for additional doses.”
Pfizer’s statement came after Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said there were some “hiccups” with the rollout and that Pfizer has kept the government at “arm’s length.”
But Perna said Saturday that Pfizer hasn’t had any issues.
“To the best of my knowledge, there has been zero problem with the Pfizer vaccines from going from manufactured to releasable,” Perna said.
Operation Warp Speed is confident that 20 million doses will be delivered by the end of 2020, Perna said Saturday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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