But despite the Trump administration’s repeated promises to deliver tens or even hundreds of millions of coronavirus vaccine doses by the new year, President Trump is set to leave office Wednesday having delivered only a fraction of the doses his administration pledged.
The unprecedented rapid development of two highly effective vaccines remains a remarkable accomplishment, and the nation’s vaccine deployment is more or less on par with other economically developed countries. But the failure to more quickly administer the vaccine has compounded the broader failure of the United States to contain a pandemic that has killed 100,000 Americans over the past five weeks alone.
As of Monday, just over 31 million coronavirus vaccine doses had been delivered nationwide. Fewer than half of those have been administered.
This despite months of promises from Trump officials that the United States would distribute no fewer than 40 million coronavirus vaccine doses and administer doses to 20 million Americans by the end of December. The Trump administration did not even deliver 20 million vaccine doses until Jan. 7.
You can watch examples of the Trump administration’s repeated and shifting promises about when and how many doses would be available in the video above.
Vaccine distribution is not the first thing that Trump and his administration overpromised on during the coronavirus pandemic, but it may be the last.
On Friday, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar — who at one point had promised “hundreds of millions of doses as we go into the new year” — praised the Trump administration when asked about the slow vaccine rollout.
“We said we would have doses available for 20 million people that could be available. And of course that was a projection based on estimates of when FDA would approve,” Azar said. “FDA ended up approving later — close to Christmas — you’ve got a natural scale up. The amazing thing is just how without a hitch the distribution has gone.”
Moments later, Azar acknowledged that there was no coronavirus vaccine reserve available for states, despite claiming said reserve would be released to the states earlier that week.
Several states have since said Azar’s mixed messaging will further delay vaccinations.