State officials raise alarm of potential to steal Covid-19 vaccines, report says

States like Michigan called on their National Guard to assist in vaccine distribution 

Danielle Zoellner
New York
Wednesday 09 December 2020 21:26
Biden vows 100m vaccines in first 100 days as president
Leer en Español

State officials have raised the alarm about the possibility of individuals attempting to steal or vandalise coronavirus vaccines as they are transported across the country, The Daily Beast reports.

These alarms were raised to top officials in the Department of Defense and National Guard, three senior administration officials told the publication, with questions on if the federal government would assist in protecting vaccine shipments.

But officials were reportedly told it would likely be on individual states for how they protect their vaccines.

Several states announced they will use the assistance of their National Guard in order to protect and distribute the coronavirus vaccine amid the pandemic.

“You will see states utilize the National Guard for security purposes because the guard is good with bulk,” Juliette Kayyem, a former Obama administration assistant secretary for intergovernmental affairs at the Department of Homeland Security, told The Daily Beast. “States are going to want protection of the vaccine from a black market or anti-vaxxers who want to destroy it.”

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer was one state official who announced the assistance of her state’s National Guard in vaccine distribution.

“The Michigan National Guard continues to be a crucial part of our fight against the Covid-19 pandemic," Ms Whitmer said in a news release.

“I want to thank our men and women in uniform for their dedication and round-the-clock work to protect the people of our state by expanding testing in our communities and ensuring they have what they need to get through this crisis."

The Michigan National Guard would also provide logistical and transportation support once the state receives its shipments of the coronavirus vaccine, she added.

Security concerns surrounding the coronavirus vaccine come at a time when distribution could start as early as this weekend depending on if the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted emergency authorisation to Pfizer for its jab.

An independent panel commissioned by the FDA would review Pfizer’s coronavirus vaccine data on 10 December and vote on if the public health agency should grant the emergency use authorisation to the company.

Following that vote, the FDA will make its final determination about the vaccine, and millions of doses could be shipped out to states as early as this weekend in response to that approval.

Reports have indicated states will likely receive fewer doses from the first batch of Pfizer’s stockpile – about 6.4 million doses – than originally anticipated, which has influenced officials to focus on protecting and efficiently distributing the vaccine to residents.

General Gustave Perna, co-leader of Operation Warp Speed – a federal program created by the Trump administration to assist in vaccine development and distribution – said companies will always keep on hand 5 per cent of their stockpile for safety reasons.

"The vendor is going to keep it in case we have a truck that goes down, we have vaccine that gets lost, a natural disaster hits, or the power goes out," Mr Ostrowski said.

This will ensure that the federal government has back-up vaccines to issue to states if anything happens.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

View comments