Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Then-President Donald Trump after signing an Executive Order for "Ensuring Access to United States Government Covid-19 Vaccines" during an Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit at the White House complex on Tuesday, Dec 8, 2020.(Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Then-President Donald Trump after signing an Executive Order for "Ensuring Access to United States Government Covid-19 Vaccines" during an Operation Warp Speed Vaccine Summit at the White House complex on Tuesday, Dec 8, 2020.(Photo: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

'Affirmation of Complete Incompetence': Biden Team Says Trump Vaccine Distribution Plan Nonexistent

"There is nothing for us to rework," said one of President Biden's Covid advisers. "We are going to have to build everything from scratch."

Kenny Stancil

In a development that critics say provides additional evidence of former President Donald Trump's incompetence and malfeasance, newly sworn-in President Joe Biden learned soon after Wednesday's inauguration that his administration will have to develop a coronavirus vaccine distribution strategy from "square one" because the previous administration departed without a federal inoculation plan in place.

"What we're inheriting from the Trump administration is so much worse than we could have imagined."
—Jeff Zients, White House

"There is nothing for us to rework. We are going to have to build everything from scratch," one source with knowledge of the Biden team's pandemic response told CNN.

With more than 406,000 people having died from Covid-19 in the U.S. alone, and with seven-day averages of nearly 200,000 cases and more than 3,000 deaths per day, Biden has pledged to ramp up the production and distribution of vaccines—vowing to inoculate 100 million Americans in the first 100 days of his administration. 

But the failure of the Trump administration to leave behind any national rollout plans has made that task more challenging. Describing the moment when it dawned on Biden's team that there was no vaccine strategy for them to build upon, another source told CNN: "Wow, just further affirmation of complete incompetence."

Along with many others, Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) noted how unsurprising the news was, considering the Trump administration's penchant for dishonesty—including previous lies about vaccine distribution.

Biden's advisers had endured hostility from the Trump administration during the transition, but according to Jeff Zients, coordinator of the White House's Covid-19 task force, "What we're inheriting from the Trump administration is so much worse than we could have imagined."

"We don't have the visibility that we would hope to have into supply and allocations," Zients said.

The Daily Beast reported Thursday that as the Biden administration "begin[s] to strategize on how best to remedy the situation they are finding that the foundation on which the Trump administration built its vaccine distribution program is more flawed than previously understood... From the accounting to the way vaccines are allocated and scheduled for delivery—the system doesn't allow for the quick movement of vaccines off the manufacturing line to state vaccine distribution points."

According to reporting from CNN, "Biden's Covid advisers had wanted to be careful not to be overly critical in public of the Trump administration's handling of the virus and vaccine, given that the Biden transition team was already having a hard time getting critical information and cooperation from the outgoing administration."

"Now that the transition of power has taken place, the Biden administration is hoping that they can quickly start to get a clearer picture of where things actually stand with vaccine distribution and administration across the country, going through something of a 'fact-checking' exercise on what exactly the Trump administration had and had not done," CNN noted.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Zients said that "for almost a year now, Americans could not look to the federal government for any strategy, let alone a comprehensive approach to respond to Covid. And we've seen the tragic costs of that failure."

"That'll change" now that Biden is in office, he added.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

UN Agency Condemns 'Homophobic and Racist' Monkeypox Reporting

"Stigma hurts everyone," says one ranking UNAIDS official. "Shared science and social solidarity help everyone."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Tax the Rich,' Say Millionaire Activists Protesting at Davos Amid Record Wealth, Inequality

"As someone who has enjoyed the benefits of wealth my whole life I know how skewed our economy is and I cannot continue to sit back and wait for someone, somewhere, to do something," said one demonstrator.

Brett Wilkins ·


Rights Group Urges Civilian Safeguards as Biden Sends Troops Back to Somalia

"A culture of impunity for civilian loss breeds resentment and mistrust among the population and undermines efforts to build a more rights-respecting state," Human Rights Watch's regional director asserted.

Brett Wilkins ·


Australian Progressives Hail 'Greenslide' Amid Big Left Wins and Morrison's Ouster

"People have backed the Greens in record numbers and delivered a massive mandate for action on climate and inequality," said party leader Adam Bandt.

Brett Wilkins ·


Omar Leads Charge Against Baby Formula Monopolies Amid US Shortage

Democrats urge the FTC to probe "any unfair or unsustainable practices, like deceptive marketing, price gouging, and stock buybacks, that may be weakening our nutritional formula supply."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo