AP — The Army general in charge of getting COVID-19 vaccines across the United States apologizes for “miscommunication” with states over the number of doses to be delivered in the early stages of distribution.
“I failed. I’m adjusting. I am fixing and we will move forward from there,” Gen. Gustave Perna tells reporters in a telephone briefing.
Perna’s remarks come a day after a second vaccine was added in the fight against COVID-19, which has killed more than 312,000 people in the US. Governors in more than a dozen states have said the federal government has told them that next week’s shipment of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine will be less than originally projected.
Perna acknowledges the criticism and accepts blame.
“I want to take personal responsibility for the miscommunication,” he says. “I know that’s not done much these days. But I am responsible. … This is a Herculean effort and we are not perfect.”
The general says he made mistakes by citing numbers of doses that he believed would be ready.
“I am the one who approved forecast sheets. I’m the one who approved allocations,” Perna says. “There is no problem with the process. There is no problem with the Pfizer vaccine. There is no problem with the Moderna vaccine.”
There’s a distinction between manufactured vaccines and doses that are ready to be released. The finished product must undergo “rigorous quality control and sterility tests,” which can take up to a month, the Department of Health and Human Services says.
Perna says the government now is on track to get approximately 20 million doses to states by the first week of January, a combination of the newly approved Moderna vaccine and the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine.
He says 2.9 million Pfizer-BioNTech doses have been delivered to states so far.