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On Saturday, Jan. 30 several national news media reported on two mysteries that continue to go unanswered: Where did 20 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines go, supposedly shipped to states by the Trump administration’s December vaccine rollout — and what happened to the COVID-19 national stockpile?

The prior administration reported that they shipped 20 million doses out to the states, and had reserves in a national vaccine stockpile. But after more than a week on the job, President Joe Biden’s team found that the national stockpile was mostly empty, and the states say they don’t have vaccine reserves. In effect this appears to mean that Trump’s people somehow lost 20 million doses.

Only about two million doses could reasonably be considered to be the lag in vaccine administration reporting. That could mean the rest of the crucial supply is boxed away somewhere in warehouses, sitting idle in freezers or floating somewhere in the complex distribution pipeline that runs from the administration to individual states. Right now — no one appears to know where.

While right-wing news media are attempting to address this by spreading inaccurate information that it is the Biden administration that somehow misplaced the 20 million doses, not the Trump administration, this information is inaccurate. First Draft verification, of which Ark Valley Voice is a member, reports that:

“‘That’s a dilemma that predated the Biden team’s arrival,’ the reporters noted. Omitting that context, Turning Point Action co-founder Ryan Fournier posted a tweet in reference to the story that read, ‘The Biden Administration lost 20 million COVID vaccines… This entire administration is a joke.’ These false claims were also advanced by people such as Donald Trump Jr. in a tweet shared over 3,800 times and in an article by Canadian conservative site The Post Millennial.”

The news of the missing doses has hampered plans to speed up the national vaccination and it has occurred just as at least three new COVID-19 strains have begun to pop up around the country. The expectation that there were vaccine doses reportedly shipped to states which aren’t found in the states, initially frustrated states’ plans. This includes Colorado’s plans to ramp up vaccine distribution, because the states can’t be sure of what vaccine supplies they may or may not get; a situation the state is trying to get a handle on, as explained in the Governor’s Jan. 21 press conference.

Biden, who promised he’d bring in a competent, tested team to run the pandemic response, set a goal of administering 100 million vaccine doses during his first 100 days in office. To that end, his team arrived at the White House with a 200-page response plan ready to roll out.

But last Tuesday, Biden warned that the “vaccine program is in worse shape than we anticipated or expected,” echoing complaints from his chief of staff, Ron Klain, that a “plan didn’t really exist.”

While some have criticized that 100 million number as too low, others say that the mushrooming vaccine situation, termed by those who have accessed the situation is “a mess”. They warn that the dilemma of the missing vaccine doses could impact how fast the process of getting the nation back to some kind of normal proceeds.

Politico reported that “Biden officials leading the coronavirus response launched a series of regular briefings this week to keep the public informed on the state of the pandemic and government efforts to contain it and rush vaccines out to as many Americans as possible. But the briefings have short on details, while behind the scenes, officials say, the team was still struggling to get a handle on basic information.  They’re working to liaise with the career government workers who have been running the response and to build out a long-term strategy for bringing — and then keeping — the virus under control.

Contributing to the problem, say seasoned observers, are two things:  the new administration didn’t get much of a transition, if any — to lay the groundwork to take the reins. Second — there wasn’t any existing plan. As Politico laid it out:

“Nobody had a complete picture,” said Julie Morita, a member of the Biden transition team and executive vice president at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. “The plans that were being made were being made with the assumption that more information would be available and be revealed once they got into the White House.”

Yet in the days since taking over, the COVID response team has confronted a situation that officials described as far worse than expected — and that has prompted public assessments so dour they surprised some who had worked on the administration’s former transition team.

Biden’s COVID response team has since made a concerted effort not to heap blame on the Trump administration, one official said — even as their vague allusions to a worse-than-expected situation have prompted speculation about what specific problems they’ve encountered.”