Washington, Jan 3 (AFP/APP): US officials on Sunday rejected Donald Trump’s claim that the national Covid-19 death toll of 350,000 has been exaggerated, but defended the stumbling campaign to vaccinate millions of Americans.
Some 4.2 million people in the US have received initial doses of the two-dose vaccines from Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna — far below official predictions of 20 million by the new year.
The president blamed local authorities for the delays, tweeting that “the vaccines are being delivered to the states by the Federal Government far faster than they can be administered!” He also claimed that the number of cases and deaths was “far exaggerated” because of a “ridiculous method of determination,” accusing the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) of a policy of “When in doubt, call it Covid.” In response, top US scientist Anthony Fauci said on ABC that “those are real numbers, real people and real deaths.”
Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who was nominated by Trump, told CNN that he saw no reason to question the numbers from the federal CDC. More than 13 million vaccine doses have been distributed nationwide, but efforts to vaccinate health workers and vulnerable people have been hampered by logistical problems and overstretched hospitals and clinics.
“There have been a couple of glitches, that’s understandable,” Fauci said, adding it was a challenge “trying to get a massive vaccine program started and getting off on the right foot.”
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