Kamala Harris said parts of the Trump administration's pandemic response left Biden 'starting from scratch'

  • Vice President Kamala Harris slammed the Trump administration’s pandemic response on Sunday.
  • She said there was “no stockpile” of vaccines when she and President Joe Biden took office.
  • “We’re going to have to work like heck to get it done,” she told “Axios on HBO.”
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Vice President Kamala Harris said the Biden administration was left “starting from scratch” in many aspects of the COVID-19 pandemic response.

In an interview, Harris told “Axios on HBO” that when she and President Joe Biden arrived in office, they found officials working under President Donald Trump had left no vaccine stockpile and no national strategy for distribution.

“We were leaving it to the states or local leaders to try and figure it out, and so in many ways we’re starting from scratch on something that’s been raging for almost an entire year,” she said.

Biden has said similar things, telling CBS News on February 7 that when he arrived in office he found the situation was “even more dire” than he had imagined.

Insider contacted Trump representatives for comment but did not immediately receive a reply.

About 11 months since the World Health Organisation declared the novel coronavirus to be a pandemic, more than 485,000 Americans have died with the virus, and the country has reported more than 27 million cases.

Under Trump, vaccines were developed in record time, including several that received support from Operation Warp Speed, the Trump administration’s initiative to accelerate development.

But the distribution has been less of a success. The Trump administration’s strategy with vaccines was to allow local and state authorities to figure out distribution for themselves.

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This is in line with the norm that states — not the federal government — are primarily responsible for healthcare. But in the pandemic, this approach has been criticised by public-health experts, as Insider’s Hilary Brueck reported.

By the end of 2020, about 2.8 million people had been vaccinated in the US — far short of the Trump administration’s stated goal of 20 million.

Asked whether the situation would affect the administration’s goals, Harris said the standard had to be “‘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.'”

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