The member of the Covid Advisory Board of President-Elect Joe Biden, Dr. Celine Gounder, slammed the Trump administration's piecemeal Covid response as some states in the U.S. struggled to get the vaccine doses they needed.
"I think we have already received too many patchwork reactions in the states," said Gounder in an interview on Monday evening for "The News with Shepard Smith".
In a briefing on the coronavirus on Friday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said the federal government was sending his state 50,000 less doses of vaccine than the week before. The state received fewer doses when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention expanded immunization rights to people over 65 years of age on Jan.
On Monday, Cuomo sent a letter to Pfizer asking if New York State could buy vaccines directly from the company. Last week, Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer made a similar request to Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar.
Gounder told host Shepard Smith that this approach could cause more problems than it solve.
"I think Governor Cuomo himself had already said in the spring that the ventilator situation was essentially 'a big Ebay' where all states bid against each other for ventilators, and I think this is an approach for the allocation of vaccines is. Frankly, this will lead to the same situation that he himself criticized last spring, "said Gounder.
Data from the CDC shows that the US gets an average of 900,000 vaccinations per day. During an interview with Fox News, Azar quoted the CDC number and criticized the Biden government's goal of "100 million gun shots in the first 100 days."
"We'll have 250 million doses of vaccine distributed by the end of April," said Azar. "If by then they have only had 100 million vaccinations, it will be a tragic waste of the opportunity we gave them."
Gounder, an epidemiologist at NYU, qualified Azar's testimony, noting that the distribution did not mean actual injections of the vaccine.
"We saw, however, that the distribution is very different from shooting in the arms, that the last mile of delivery is really the hardest part here," explained Gounder. "Second, we have to confirm that this number of doses, the 250 million figure he cites there, will really be down."
Cuomo beat him up in a separate letter to Azar for "confusing" the public about vaccine supplies. Azar admitted on Friday that there are currently no supplies.
Biden consultant Dr. Michael Osterholm warned that the worst of the Covid pandemic is yet to come and the data supports his dire prediction. The U.S. is rapidly approaching 400,000 deaths in the pandemic, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. That's roughly one in 822 Americans. According to the Covid Tracking Project, at least 23,000 people were in intensive care units in the United States for 19 consecutive days due to Covid. The HHS reported that nearly 80% of ICU beds nationwide are occupied.
Gounder said the US is "in our fifth peak" and that the next few months will only be about "shift protection" to avoid another.
"We really need to focus on things like masking and social distancing, outside instead of inside, well-ventilated spaces," warned Gounder. "If we do these things it may be our final climax, but it really depends on each of us doing what needs to be done to get back to normal life."