Anthony Fauci Says Joe Biden Will Hit Target To Vaccinate 100m People in First 100 Days

Anthony Fauci, America's top infectious disease specialist, has told Newsweek he believes President-elect Joe Biden will fulfill his promise to get 100 million COVID vaccines administered in his first 100 days in office. His forecast comes amid a slower than expected vaccine roll-out in the U.S.

Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and incoming chief medical advisor to the Biden administration, said: "I think that's possible, it's very possible to do that. I think you've got to be careful about judging the long-range by what's happened in the first couple of weeks."

Operation Warp Speed, the White House's effort to develop and distribute COVID treatments and vaccines, aims to deliver 300 million COVID vaccine doses. After the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized the use of COVID vaccines by Pfizer and Moderna last December, Health Secretary Alex Azar said the Trump administration hoped to vaccinate 20 million people by the end of December 2020, then 50 million by the end of January.

As of Tuesday, 17 million doses had been distributed and 4.8 million people had received their first dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). That amounts to more than 70 percent of doses currently going unused.

Last week, Biden criticized the Trump administration, saying it would take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people at the current pace.

Some have blamed the problems on the fact the U.S. has a less centralized and well-funded public health care system compared to other countries, while others have pinned them on a lack of planning from the Trump administration. Newsweek has contacted the White House for comment.

On Monday, Azar told ABC's Good Morning America: "There's a lag between doses being available, them being ordered by the providers in the states, shipping, and then eventual vaccination, especially when you have Christmas and New Year's in the middle."

He said: "This is the largest vaccination campaign in the history of the United States. I'm actually surprised there haven't been more glitches."

Fauci had previously described the vaccine roll-out as "disappointing." On Tuesday, he echoed Azar, telling Newsweek: "Whenever you get a massive vaccine program started, there's always some bumps in the road and some hiccups or little glitches."

Similarly to Azar, he said the roll-out started in the middle of the holiday period "in which vaccination programs always slow down."

In parts of Florida, elderly people have been queuing outside medical facilities due to a first-come-first-serve approach, and some hotlines and websites have been overrun with requests.

Asked whether he was worried such scenes would put people off from being vaccinated, Fauci said: "I think that's just because you're in the very beginning of the process. And when you start something you don't get it right immediately... if you see what happens over the next couple of weeks, I think things will work much, much better."

The top immunologist made the remarks amid growing concerns about the spread of two new, more infectious COVID variants from the U.K. and South Africa.

"The sooner you get everybody vaccinated, the easier it is to protect against any changes in the virus. So the efficiency of the vaccine program is very important," he said.

Fauci said the U.S. "will begin to see a return to normality" by fall 2021 if most people in the country are vaccinated.

anthony fauci, covid, coronavirus, getty
Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, pictured during a Trump administration COVID briefing at the White House on April 1, 2020, in Washington, DC. Fauci believes president-elect Joe Biden will be able to fulfil his promising of seeing 100 million Americans vaccinated in his first 100 days in office. MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images