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In final transition days, Biden team gets access to critical Covid vaccine data

The incoming administration remains confident he can hit the goal of 100 million vaccines in 100 days.
Image: Joe Biden
President-elect Joe Biden speaks in Wilmington, Del., on Jan. 8, 2021.Susan Walsh / AP

WASHINGTON — In the days after President Donald Trump's effort to reverse his electoral defeat turned deadly, administration officials finally began giving President-elect Joe Biden's team access to critical Covid-19 vaccination data.

While Biden’s team continues to insist they will be able to administer 100 million vaccines in the first 100 days, they continue to wave warning flags that the lack of cooperation with the Trump team is impeding their ability to plan.

Biden's transition team is “still confident" about hitting their vaccination target, said a person familiar with the matter. “There are really things the Trump administration has done to make it harder on us.”

This week, Biden's team finally gained access to Tiberius, the government's tracking software that was created to keep tabs on vaccine distribution and administration, according to a person familiar with the plans. After weeks of requesting to attend Operation Warp Speed vaccine briefings, last week, Trump officials finally allowed Biden's representatives in, the source said.

The Biden transition has yet to obtain access to the Defense Department’s vaccination plans for the military, the person said.

A spokesperson for HHS said they have made unprecedented efforts to coordinate with the Biden transition. They said HHS will continue to provide regular updates, information, and briefings to the Biden team, and will continue to work on an orderly transition through January 20.

"Since before Thanksgiving, there have been over 300 meetings with President-elect Biden’s team across HHS, and briefings continued through the holiday season. HHS will continue its work to support an orderly transition through January 20,” the official said.

Biden will detail his plans on Thursday for a legislative package for more funding for vaccine distribution.

“Do we feel like we have gotten the right cooperation and visibility in the past couple of weeks into Warp Speed? No,” said a transition official.

As of Wednesday, of the more than 29 million vaccine doses distributed nationwide, about 10 million people have received their first dose, according to the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention. But the Biden team still believes it can meet its goal of 100 million shots in the first 100 days despite a problematic launch.

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But one transition official warns that Biden's team is aware that no matter the state of the operation Biden inherits from Trump, people are unlikely to see the lack of cooperation as a valid excuse.

“It is really striking, not only did the current administration completely bungle the response to Covid but they also really obstructed a smooth transition so even though there is a lot of good work that has gone on that work is very difficult to continue in an environment where there isn’t free and open sharing of information,” said former CDC director Tom Frieden.

A transition official said they also expect the incoming administration to set up a federally-funded mass vaccination sites and mobile units that will target hard-to-reach populations, like those in rural areas.