The military leader of Operation Warp Speed, Gen. Gustave Perna, said Saturday that he takes sole responsibility for last week’s confusion over the allotment of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to states, which led more than a dozen governors to complain that they had received far fewer doses than originally promised.
“Where I failed — I failed, nobody else failed — was to have a clear understanding of that cadence” of the vaccine distribution process, Perna said, adding: “It was my fault. I gave guidance. I am the one that approved the forecast sheets.”
The striking mea culpa — rare among U.S. officials in the response to the Covid-19 pandemic — came during a briefing in which Perna, the chief operating officer of OWS, said repeatedly that he had underestimated the time required to get the vaccine doses approved for distribution to states. The chaos over allotments followed labeling confusion that caused hospital pharmacists at several health systems to throw away one in every six doses of the first vaccines distributed.
On Friday, a day after governors in at least 14 states said that the federal government had suddenly slashed the number of vaccine doses initially planned for shipping, the Department of Health and Human Services blamed the problem on poor planning, saying in a statement that it overestimated the number of weekly allocations it could release to states.
Perna on Saturday said investigating what went wrong took several days.
Typical vaccine distribution programs, he said, involve collecting vaccines and distributing them several weeks later. The Covid-19 vaccine distribution process has been markedly more complex, as the vaccine requires two doses spaced three to four weeks apart. To provide states with a continuous supply of vaccines, OWS will not release first doses until it has second doses on hand, Perna said. Determining how to do so has been a challenge, he added.
“It looked very good on paper,” Perna said. “Paper plans are very good. Execution is where we learn, and we adapted accordingly.”
Perna also denied there have been any vaccine production issues on the part of Pfizer and its partner, BioNTech, responding to additional concerns that emerged last week from HHS Secretary Alex Azar and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis about Pfizer’s capacity to produce the necessary doses. Perna said he was confident that the rollout of the vaccine developed by Moderna, which was authorized on Friday, would go more smoothly.
The first shipments of that vaccine — which does not require extreme cold storage — are expected to arrive in states Monday, at which time Perna said he would personally brief governors on the status of available doses. In the meantime, OWS had begun shipping the supplies required to administer the vaccine, such as syringes, Perna said.
“There is no problem with the Pfizer vaccine. There is no problem with the Moderna vaccine,” Perna said. “It was a planning error and I am responsible. I don’t know how to say it any clearer than that.”
Hey John wolf. I’m saddened that you can only come up with a snarky remark. Your the guy who can’t get tickets to the front row but wont keep his mouth shut and interrupts the show from the last row. Barely allowed in your the most boisterous in the hall. Pipe down. Let it go. Let your anger subside. Trump and his military did well here and you don’t like it because your a hater. Try to relax your boy Biden will be asleep for 50% of the time trump was working. I’m so sure America will be better. Your only 10 feet from the drinks. Walk out and get one.
Trump and pence deserve full credit for operation warp speedo. The whole media band wagon banging the drum loud claimed it couldnt be done this year, nor next year, maybe by 2023 if at that even. With $14 billion swimming against the flow trump admin saved $10 trillion of damage that would have been done economically by the fall medias own mad 2023 projection- (of course they told us the whole world 🌎 would fall apart with Y2K- what happened with that) and probably 1 million plus usa lives and 10 plus plus plus million lives world wide. He should get time magazine man of the decade. Remember the 1918 bird flu over the cookoos next, that one killed 700, 000 americans when we had but one sixth the population- and 70 million worldwide(20 million india alone), 5 times the death for whom the bell toll gate of fall as mad mans folly of world war one. Trump said it, and it happened as a true man of action said it. Compare john f skerry, he said ruinning for potus sin 2004 (remember him) that without his plan as al gores boston harbor near me would fall into the sea would rise 20 stinking feet by 2020. ( we are still waiting) Now hes bidens new climate czar. And it didnt rise one centimeter even but his plan he would have charged us needlessly $10s of trillions of tax dollars in his pocket. Mad as the hatter he who would be king, by bidens side with hunters too
I agree Trump and Pence deserve full credit – for everything getting so bad.
A man of action. That is laughable as is all of your pathetic Trumpist apologist gobbledygook.
The first honest man in this mess. Thank you for being honest. Let’s all work together to fix the pandemic.
“ The chaos over allotments followed labeling confusion that caused hospital pharmacists at several health systems to throw away one in every six doses of the first vaccines distributed.”
People are just not used to a military person versus a typical politician. The military person only knows how to tell the truth. Go figure for the typical politician.
Uniquely Military Response to a problem…. taking responsibility and fixing the problem!
He did the right thing!!
I too appreciate someone stepping up saying, “it’s my responsibility”, so for that, thumbs up to General Parna. But back-up from just last week and look at the momentous miss here of our Fed and State Government run distribution as compared to the spectacular job done by Pfizer and Moderna. There are three parts to this new vaccine, Discovery, Manufacture, Distribution. Pfizer condensed all phases of the Discovery, Manufacture process by going ahead with the next phase without knowing if the previous would work. For example, getting production lines ready, putting up ‘freezer farms’ to store product all before knowing if Phase 3 would show efficacy. It was at their financial risk; it was at Warp Speed. Now compare that to the Government distribution plan. They waited to vote on priority until after EUA. Waited to ship. What are you waiting for?!
Keep in mind, vaccination is to achieve ‘herd immunity’; the priority of who goes first, second, is immaterial, the idea is 100M vaccinations in a month. Another 200M in the second month… Mass distribution, think converting football stadiums into vaccine centers; think of Michigan State or Penn State graduation style logistics of 10,000 past a stage in an hour. Line up, multiple parallel lines, give your name, keep moving, get the shot, never sit down. In the warmer states, think of drive through, multiple lines of cars again at stadiums that know how to move cars, roll down your window/roll up your sleeve, exit where the guys is waving you back onto the highway.
Have you heard about anything even remotely like this coming from Perna? No, it’s a huge FAIL, so don’t tell me Warp Speed is working, it is a HUGE FAIL. How do you set this up? You set it up back in September; remember that parallel planning stuff that Pfizer and Moderna did before you know it will all work? We should have all had our ‘boarding pass’ number back in September for who goes first, second, etc. Health care workers first, over 65- second, blah, blah; after that I don’t care if it is an age or health or a lottery, it doesn’t really matter because everybody is through for round one in a month. And please, do not believe ‘vaccine scarcity’ for the distribution excuse! It is just simply not true! The Pfizer shipping containers are set up for the scenario above. Each box of vaccine has 195 vials that produce 5 doses, that’s 1,000 doses in the size of a small pizza box. A typical minivan with the seat down can hold 480 of these ‘pizza boxes’ so that’s 500,000 doses per mini van. Drive it into the stadium, deliver 100,000/day for five days, bring in a new minivan. Stop already with the logistical problems. Yes, I know it is more complicated than that… but four things need to come together, 1- the jabber, 2- the jabbie, 3- the vaccine, and 4- the location; you can figure out a faster way than one at a time taking pictures. So far the distribution is a huge miss. They are saying vaccination completed by the end of June. The way you achieve the impossible is to state your goal and go for it. That is what Pfizer did. That is what Moderna did. I want to hear Parna (General for Warp Speed) , Azar (Head HHS), CDC head, Trump, Biden, somebody say, “everybody that wants a vaccination will get one by end of February”. Until they say it, they won’t figure out how to do it. Motivation- 3,000 deaths a day, 100,000 a month, move the vaccination up 4 months, save 400,000 lives! 400,000 loved ones continue to breath, c’mon man, let’s find a way.
Thank you Ed! 👍🏻
Very well stated observations and synopsis from an obviously well trained observer and thinker.
Normally I’d proffer small points to assist poster in making their arguments….but you did such an excellent job of condensing/simplifying a hugely complex issue….I’ve nothing further to add other than this readers profound thanks for your missive
Bravo, Ed. But in the US, it’s all political, so the state governments are in charge of prioritization within each state. They have to “promote” the vaccine to people who are too ignorant or suspicious to take it, before they will let us literate people have it. And if a few old w***e people die while we wait for these “community outreach campaigns” to bear fruit, well, we are expendable. As we die, we reduce the number of Social Security recipients, and the wealthier among us even trigger inheritance tax liability. If you don’t believe me, just read the filth being spewed by California Governor, Newsome, about applying an “equity lens” in prioritizing distribution.
Maybe it’s a good thing we figure out first if the side effects of this vaccine are going to injure or kill more people than it helps before mass inoculation takes place. Maybe this scenario has been understood already in turn the reason for the delayed approach. Maybe the lineup should be stabber, stabbie, mortician. Safety should come first and if you are that concerned about contracting this virus then you should stay home. Plenty of delivery/pickup services available in today’s day and age to stay protected.
Given the challenges and intricacies of managing OWS and the vaccine delivery to the states, I would like to thank you and applaud you for taking responsibility for the initial complications of this enormous effort. You are, perhaps, the only individual in this outgoing administration who has stepped forward to assume responsibility for anything. This is admirable of you. I am grateful. Thank you. Michele J. Perry
Please stop putting politics everywhere. It is very sickening.
Given the relatively elevated number of significant allergic responses, apology not needed. Time is required to isolate allergy causing ingredients for removal or adjustment.
In such a big operation with so many people involved, you will always have incompetent people making mistakes no matter how good your plan are.
Who needs to be hold accountable are all the people who made mistakes. Unfortunately, when you work for federal it is hard to get fired, so you have so many under performers.
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