Anthony Fauci seen at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland. 
Anthony Fauci seen at the National Institutes of Health on December 22, 2020, in Bethesda, Maryland.  Patrick Semansky/AFP/Getty Images

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday the US has fallen behind on administering coronavirus vaccines, but he hopes momentum will pick up in the first few weeks of January.   

“There are multiple stages of this: there’s the allocation, there’s the shipping, there’s the distribution and there’s finally getting in people’s arms,” Fauci said.

Fauci said he spoke with Army General Gustave Perna, Operation Warp Speed’s head of vaccine distribution, who explained that 20 million doses have been allocated, about 14 million doses have been shipped and about 13 million have been distributed to the individual clinics and hospitals where people will be vaccinated.

“They had promised it was going to be 20. I asked why we’re not at 20, and there was certainly a bit of a glitch, which he explained. But as we get into the first couple of days and first week of January, very likely we’re going to hit that 20. So we’re going to be somewhat behind by a few days,” Fauci said.

The real issue, according to Fauci, is getting doses into people’s arms.

“We now have about 4 million, which is obviously below where we want to be,” he said. “But if you look at the last 72 hours, there’s been about 1.5 million administered into people’s arms, which is an average of about 500,000 a day,” he added. That “is better than what that 4 million over 20 million proportion tells you.”

Fauci said that the US is not where it wants to be. “We’ve got to do much better,” he said. In a week or two, things may pick up after a holiday slowdown. 

“No excuses — we’re not where we want to be, but hopefully we’ll pick up some momentum and get back to where we want to be with regard to getting it into people’s arms,” Fauci said.