Psaki Defends Harris "Starting From Scratch" Claim On COVID: "There Were Not Enough Vaccines"

White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended a remark made by Vice President Kamala Harris on the coronavirus pandemic in an interview with Axios at the White House press briefing on Wednesday. Harris said the Biden administration is in many ways "starting from scratch" in terms of weapons in their wheelhouse to fight the virus. "There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations, we were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try to figure it out," Harris told Axios correspondent Mike Allen. "So, in many ways, we're starting from scratch on something that's been raging for almost an entire year... Our standard has to be that everything is possible, but we're going to have to work like heck to get it done. Which means, again, no patience for delay, no patience for 'no,' no patience for 'it can't be done.'" Psaki at press briefing: REPORTER: And if I may, one more. The Vice President said - speaking of vaccines and distribution, COVID, et cetera - she said, quote, In many ways, we are starting from scratch on something that's been raging for almost a year. However, Dr. Fauci has recently said, quote, We're not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution. And even today, your administration said that there was - I believe the number was 892,000 doses that were administered in the final week before the President took over. So is that the best message, to say that this administration started from scratch, when there were indeed doses going out the door and folks, like Dr. Fauci, say that's not the case? MS. PSAKI: Well, I don't think most governors or most of the American people would tell you that they think it was handled effectively and efficiently by the prior administration, given we are where we are. When the President came in and the Vice President came in, there were not enough vaccines, there were not enough vaccinators, there were not enough vaccination locations. They've taken significant steps to address all of those issues. Yes, in the week prior to the President taking office, there were about 800- to 900,000, as you said, doses doing - being given a day. The average was about 400- to 500,000 prior to that. Last week, the average was 1.7 million a day. So there are significant steps that have been taken. What they were conveying was that we did not have a comprehensive plan. There were not enough vaccines. There was not enough coordination with governors and local officials. And there were not enough places where people could get the vaccine. And now we're working to address that. And it was important for the Vice President to convey that because the American people need to know what we're digging out of, and that was why she said it.

Psaki Defends Harris "Starting From Scratch" Claim On COVID: "There Were Not Enough Vaccines"
White House press secretary Jen Psaki defended a remark made by Vice President Kamala Harris on the coronavirus pandemic in an interview with Axios at the White House press briefing on Wednesday. Harris said the Biden administration is in many ways "starting from scratch" in terms of weapons in their wheelhouse to fight the virus. "There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations, we were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try to figure it out," Harris told Axios correspondent Mike Allen. "So, in many ways, we're starting from scratch on something that's been raging for almost an entire year... Our standard has to be that everything is possible, but we're going to have to work like heck to get it done. Which means, again, no patience for delay, no patience for 'no,' no patience for 'it can't be done.'" Psaki at press briefing:
REPORTER: And if I may, one more. The Vice President said - speaking of vaccines and distribution, COVID, et cetera - she said, quote, In many ways, we are starting from scratch on something that's been raging for almost a year. However, Dr. Fauci has recently said, quote, We're not starting from scratch because there is activity going on in the distribution. And even today, your administration said that there was - I believe the number was 892,000 doses that were administered in the final week before the President took over. So is that the best message, to say that this administration started from scratch, when there were indeed doses going out the door and folks, like Dr. Fauci, say that's not the case? MS. PSAKI: Well, I don't think most governors or most of the American people would tell you that they think it was handled effectively and efficiently by the prior administration, given we are where we are. When the President came in and the Vice President came in, there were not enough vaccines, there were not enough vaccinators, there were not enough vaccination locations. They've taken significant steps to address all of those issues. Yes, in the week prior to the President taking office, there were about 800- to 900,000, as you said, doses doing - being given a day. The average was about 400- to 500,000 prior to that. Last week, the average was 1.7 million a day. So there are significant steps that have been taken. What they were conveying was that we did not have a comprehensive plan. There were not enough vaccines. There was not enough coordination with governors and local officials. And there were not enough places where people could get the vaccine. And now we're working to address that. And it was important for the Vice President to convey that because the American people need to know what we're digging out of, and that was why she said it.