The Biden administration said Thursday it had secured 200 million more doses of coronavirus vaccines, enough to inoculate every American adult, but President Biden warned that logistical hurdles would most likely mean that many Americans will still not have been vaccinated by the end of the summer.
The additional doses amount to a 50 percent increase in vaccine, and will give the administration the number of doses that Mr. Biden said last month he needs to cover 300 million people by the end of the summer. But it will still be difficult to get those shots into people’s arms. Both vaccines are two-dose regimens, spaced three and four weeks apart. Mr. Biden lamented the “gigantic” logistical challenge he faces during an appearance at the National Institutes of Health. He also expressed open frustration with the previous administration.
The Department of Health and Human Services said Pfizer and Moderna would each provide 300 million doses by the end of July in “regular increments.”
The administration is looking toward a step-by-step process. Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, the government’s top infectious disease expert, predicted on Thursday morning that as early as April, any American could begin seeking a vaccine in an “open season” that would extend availability beyond priority categories.
“By the time we get to April, that will be what I would call, for better wording, ‘open season,’” Dr. Fauci said in an interview with NBC’s “Today.” “Namely, virtually everybody and anybody in any category could start to get vaccinated.”
But the issue might be getting doses to people who do not readily seek them.
Mr. Biden has carefully avoided having his White House become consumed in criticism of his predecessor, but on Thursday he took direct aim at Donald J. Trump for what he said was a failure to create a process for mass vaccinations. The president, who said he had promised to speak openly to Americans about the challenges of the pandemic, blamed Mr. Trump for creating a significant one by failing to oversee the creation of a streamlined vaccine distribution program. “The vaccine program was in much, much worse shape than my team and I anticipated,” Mr. Biden said.
“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 added.
“It was a big mess,” he said. “It’s going to take time to fix, to be blunt with you.”
Health officials in the Trump administration have pushed back on those suggestions, pointing to hundreds of briefings that officials at the Department of Health and Human Services offered the incoming health team, including on vaccine allocation and distribution.
The highly decentralized plans to distribute and administer the vaccines, giving state and local health departments authority once doses had been delivered, were developed with career staff members at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Defense Department.