President-elect Joe Biden on Thursday criticized federal efforts to distribute the coronavirus vaccine and said he would ask Congress for $400 billion to speed up the pace of vaccinations in the US.
"The vaccine rollout in United States has been a dismal failure so far," Biden said in his speech Thursday, reiterating his goal to administer 100 million shots by the end of his first 100 days in office. The money would be used to increase the vaccine supply, create more vaccination centers and mobilize more medical teams to administer the shots.
The vaccination funding is part of a $1.9 trillion economic "American Rescue Plan " that includes $1,400 checks for most Americans, a temporary increase in unemployment benefits and a moratorium on evictions and foreclosures.
"This will be on the most challenging operational efforts we have ever undertaken as a nation," he said. "We will have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated."
The Trump administration's mass vaccination effort has been criticized as falling short of its target to vaccinate 20 million Americans against COVID-19 by the end of 2020. As of Thursday, only about 11.1 million people have received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine compared with the more than 30 million doses that have been distributed, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
States have warned for months that they lack adequate funding to conduct the mass vaccination programs necessary to combat the pandemic. Last month, recently approved $8.7 billion for coronavirus vaccine distribution and tracking, with $4.5 billion set aside for states and localities.
For the time being, however, only very specific groups of people -- mostly health care workers -- have been cleared to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.The Trump administration said Tuesday it it would release all available doses and instructed states to immediately begin vaccinating every American 65 and older.