Azar Defends WH’s Refusal To Share COVID Vaccine Plans With Biden’s Transition Team

on January 9, 2018 in Washington, DC.
Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee, testifies before the Senate Finance Committee January 9, 2018. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
November 16, 2020 10:08 a.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar, who heads the White House’s COVID-19 vaccine efforts, on Monday morning backed the Trump administration’s refusal to share its resources on the vaccine with President-Elect Joe Biden.

When “Good Morning America” host George Stephanopoulos brought up how Biden’s transition team has been blocked from accessing information on the administration’s vaccine distribution plans, Azar pointed to the General Service Administration (GSA), whose Trump-appointed director has declined to formally recognize Biden’s electoral victory.

“Once GSA determines that there is–if there is–a transition to do, we will ensure it’s cooperative and professional,” the HHS secretary said. “But right now the American people should be reassured that we’re moving ahead in collaboration with all of our states and local authorities to make sure the vaccine distribution works well.”

“But don’t you need to be talking to the President-elect’s team now?” Stephanopoulos asked.

“We’ll make sure that happens when and if it’s appropriate to do that,” Azar replied.

Pressed on why having those discussions isn’t “appropriate,” the Trump official repeated his excuse.

“GSA has to make a determination that a transition is in effect. That determination hasn’t been made,” he said.

During an appearance on “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Biden’s incoming chief of staff, Ron Klain, warned that withholding those resources could jeopardize Biden’s ability to implement the vaccine once Trump leaves.

“There are people at HHS making plans to implement that vaccine. Our experts need to talk to those people as soon as possible so nothing drops in this change of power we’re going to have on January 20th,” he said.

The White House and GSA have been persistently stonewalling Biden’s transition process as Trump continues to falsely deny the fact that the Democrat beat him and has instead been throwing tantrums over nonexistent voter fraud.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world). (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
Latest News
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Associate Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Associate Publisher:
Front End Developer:
Senior Designer: