White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Tuesday again lacked answers on how many doses of the coveted coronavirus vaccine the US has in reserve, one day after admitting that the Biden administration didn’t know how many shots were on hand.
At her daily briefing, Psaki repeatedly danced around requests for hard numbers on the available jabs, at one point punting to an unrelated briefing by President Biden scheduled for later in the day.
“The president is going to have more of an update later this afternoon,” she said, when asked point-blank how many doses are currently in the US stockpile.
“We monitor updates on a daily basis … on vaccine numbers that are distributed to states, what states have received, what they have distributed, and we’ve been connecting all the dots to ensure we have our best understanding of where the hold-ups are,” she added, without elaborating on what any of those numbers actually are.
Pressed for an explanation on the holdup, Psaki, as she did Monday, fell back on the excuse that the Biden administration is still less than a week old.
“Well, six days in, the president is also giving an update on steps we’re going to take to provide more vaccine supplies to states across the country in response to their concern there has not been a federal plan in place, and that they haven’t received the coordination, cooperation and information they desire,” said Psaki. “In my view, that’s a pretty rapid response to states’ concerns.”
And pressed later in the briefing how the White House can repeatedly tout plans to vaccinate 100 million people during the Biden administration’s first 100 days, and have vaccines widely available by the spring without that data, Psaki insisted that the administration does “have a sense” on the figures — though again keeping them to herself if she had them.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki speaks during a briefing on January 26, 2021.AP
“As I started the briefing conveying, the president will have more to say on our vaccine supply and also assistance and cooperation that we will be doing with the states later this afternoon,” she said. “And, as I also noted, we do have a sense.”
Psaki cited Tiberius, the software platform used by the feds to track the vaccine rollout.
“We are assessing every day where the holes are, where the gaps are, what the hold-ups are,” she said.
State and local leaders, including New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio, have pleaded with the federal government to step up vaccine distribution to keep pace with both demand and their capacity to administer the shot.
While the feds have fumbled around for answers, New York City has been forced to postpone people’s vaccination appointments and shutter some large-scale administration sites due to a lack of available shots.