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‘I am never going to let politics enter into that’ Adm. Grioir explains vaccine rollout to Tapper

CNN’s Jake Tapper went after Adm. Brett Giroir on Wednesday accusing the Trump administration of a slow rollout of vaccines for combating the coronavirus, prompting Giroir to deny partisan politics had contributed to the delays. He adamantly stated that politics never entered into it.

Adm. Giroir is an assistant secretary for health and chief of Covid-19 testing. Tapper said that he had spoken to several Democratic and Republican governors and that they wanted to ask why President Trump’s administration had not “push[ed] to get money to the states for vaccine distribution earlier.” He went on to say that the COVID relief bill had included additional funding for the states, but governors were saying they needed money months ago to “ramp things up.”

Giroir answered the challenge by stating that there was “about $3 million or some dollars” that had already been distributed to the states for vaccine distribution, but “only 10% of that has been drawn down.” He explained the funding need didn’t look “urgent,” but they were obviously glad that Congress had passed the bill with additional funding so that the states had the ongoing support for the “aggressive campaign” to rollout the vaccines.

“The states do need help and this will fund them,” said Giroir, who also serves on the White House Coronavirus Task Force. “We’re all on board with that … We want them to have all the resources they need to put more people on the ground to vaccinate.”

Tapper then proceeded to try and blame the President. He turned to comments that Trump had made criticizing various states, playing a video clip of the President mocking Gov. Tom Wolf (D-PA).

“President Trump has made no secret of the fact that he’s not happy with the states that didn’t vote for him, governors who didn’t support him,” said Tapper. “I want to make sure here, politics is not playing any sort of role when it comes to vaccine distribution or allocation at all, right? In Pennsylvania or other states that didn’t go for President Trump, they’re not going to be penalized at all, right? I wouldn’t normally even raise the question except President Trump said things like that.”

The admiral took offense to that suggestion. “The vaccine distribution is on a per capita basis on a population that’s over 18 years old, so there is absolutely no influence aside from just a fair and equitable distribution,” claimed Giroir.

“All these governors have my number,” he added. “They call me all the time. We work together. This is about public health, lives lost, suffering. I’m never going to let politics enter into that.”

“That’s good to know,” replied Tapper condescendingly.

Giroir did say on Wednesday that the administration needs to do a “better job” rolling out the coronavirus vaccine as the government faces criticism for falling short of its own immunization goals.

“Of course, we need to be doing a better job, but all vaccine programs start somewhat slow,” Giroir said before adding that he expects distribution to increase in the coming days.

“I know we will be distributing about 30 million more in January and potentially up to 50 million more in February,” he said.

Giroir stated that as pharmacies begin to play a larger role in vaccine administration, he expects the pace of vaccinations to quicken.

“We have a federal contract with 40,000 pharmacies — that’s 60% of all pharmacies in the US — to provide vaccines,” said Giroir. “The scale will go up very rapidly as things progress and evolve.”

“Vaccines on the shelf are no good,” he added. “They need to get in people’s arms and we are leaving no stone unturned to do that.”

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