18:28 GMT16 April 2021
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    Operation Warp Speed, a public-private partnership program to speed up COVID-19 vaccine development and supervise its distribution, was established by former President Trump in the early months of the pandemic. The current White House chief of staff claimed earlier that the Biden administration's mass vaccination effort had to "start from scratch".

    Former Operation Warp Speed chief health advisor Dr. Moncef Slaoui argued that 90% of the current administration's coronavirus vaccine rollout plan is the same as what the Trump administration had proposed. 

    "I do think we had plans," Slaoui said in Sunday's interview with "Face the Nation" on CBS. "In fact, 90% of what is happening now is the plan that we had."

    Slaoui's comments come after February's claims that Biden inherited "no plan" in regard to the mass vaccination campaign.

    Shortly after Joe Biden was sworn in office on January 20, CNN reported that his team was "starting from scratch," which was widely panned by experts in the field, and the nation's chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci quickly refuted such claims.

    Slaoui explained that the first priority of Operation Warp Speed was "to accelerate the development of the vaccine."

    "We contracted, specifically, 100 million doses of the vaccine, but built into the contracts options to acquire more vaccines once we knew they were effective," he continued. "So, I think what is happening now is right, but I think what is happening was – substantially was the plan."

    Slaoui emphasized that 90% of that plan covered "manufacturing, supply, and distribution," but he credited FEMA and sports arenas as excellent examples of how to "accelerate" the administration of shots not covered by the original plan.

    He also disclosed that, prior to the new administration assuming office, Operation Warp Speed had held talks with Merck, a rival of Johnson & Johnson, about the possibility of using their equipment to help boost vaccine production.

    The former head of Operation Warp Speed, however, regretted a few missteps in the early days of the vaccine distribution, saying that more effort should have been spent on educating the public, both on the pace of the rollout and the vaccine's safety.

    In response to Fauci and Senator Rand Paul's recent sparring over the use of masks even after vaccination, he specifically condemned the vaccine's "politicization."

    And for those who have not yet been vaccinated, Slaoui described wearing masks as "an act of civility."

    "I do think that as long as the herd immunity levels have not been maintained, people who have been vaccinated should continue to wear masks," he said. "What we don’t know yet is if the vaccine prevents replication of the virus."

    On Friday, White House COVID-19 Response Coordinator Jeff Zients noted that the United States has reached its goal of administering 100 million doses in 58 days, instead of the previously planned timeline of the first 100 days of the Biden administration.

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    Biden Administration, Joe Biden, Trump, vaccinations, Vaccines, vaccine, The White House, White House, coronavirus, COVID-19, USA, US
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