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Washington Post fact-checker gives Harris 'two Pinnochios' for 'starting from scratch' vaccine claim

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Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler challenged Vice President Kamala Harris’ recent claim that the Biden administration was “starting from scratch” with its coronavirus vaccine rollout. 

During an interview with Axios co-founder Mike Allen that aired on HBO Sunday,  Harris was asked about the struggles of the administration’s response to the pandemic after nearly one month in office. 

“There was no stockpile … of vaccines,” Harris responded. “There was no national strategy or plan for vaccinations. We were leaving it to the states and local leaders to try and figure it out. And so in many ways, we’re starting from scratch on something that’s been raging for almost an entire year!”

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Kessler began his article Wednesday by indicating that Harris’ claim “appears to be in direct conflict” with remarks made by White House adviser Dr. Anthony Fauci, who firmly rejected CNN reporting last month that the Biden administration was “starting from scratch” with its vaccine rollout. 

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“A large part of how you look at this depends on your definition of ‘plan’ or ‘starting from scratch,'” Kessler explained.

The fact-checker said he had spoken with multiple unnamed Biden officials who attempted to explain how the new administration’s plan differs from the previous administration, though one of them did acknowledge that the average number of vaccinations in a single day topped one million Americans in the final two days of the Trump presidency. 

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However, Kessler concluded that while Harris’ claim that “no national strategy or plan” can fall under a “philosophical difference” between the Trump administration’s state-level approach versus the federal oversight by the Biden administration, the vice president “gets into trouble” with the “starting from scratch” remark. 

“Biden administration officials may be proud of what they have accomplished, but they shouldn’t suggest that nothing was in place when they walked in the door. They have built on an existing structure left behind by the Trump team,” Kessler wrote. “Harris modified her comment by saying ‘in many ways,’ but that’s not quite enough to avoid Pinocchios. She earns Two.”

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