Operation Warp Speed pledged to vaccinate 20 million Americans by the end of 2020. We fell far, far short of that. How worried should we be?
Juliette Kayyem, a former assistant secretary of homeland security and an Atlantic contributor, joins staff writer James Hamblin and executive producer Katherine Wells on the podcast Social Distance. She explains what’s going on, what the problems have been, and why we shouldn’t be too concerned (yet).
They’re also joined by a listener named Craig, who’s seeking advice on a tough situation: When can you travel to see an ill family member?
Listen to their conversation here:
What follows is a transcript of the episode, edited and condensed for clarity:
James Hamblin: Juliette, you had to coordinate planning between federal, state, and local governments for issues of disasters, including those involving health, like the H1N1 pandemic. So planning vaccine rollouts like this is right up your alley. Can you explain how this is supposed to work, what’s happening right now, what’s not working, and what needs to change?
Juliette Kayyem: People need to separate what Trump and the White House have failed to do and what we’re seeing on the local and state level. We’re seeing a little bit of what we anticipated, which is: It’s really hard. It’s really big. Numbers are not clear. Supply and demand are off, depending on where you look. Some places are plowing through their stuff. Others seem to have stuff waiting. Data systems are falling apart. Phone lines aren’t being answered. I’m not forgiving, but all of this seems in the fixable realm.