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Jan. 27, 2021, 11:27 a.m. EST

CDC Director: ‘I can’t tell you how much vaccine we have and, if I can’t tell it to you, then I can’t tell it to the governors’

President Joe Biden has outlined a goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days, which some analysts describe as ambitious

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By Quentin Fottrell, MarketWatch

‘The fact that we don’t know today — five days into this administration and weeks into planning — how much vaccine we have, just gives you a sense of the challenges we’ve been left with.’

Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Rochelle Walensky, the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said Sunday, “I can’t tell you how much vaccine we have and, if I can’t tell it to you, then I can’t tell it to the governors, and I can’t tell it to the state health officials.”

Speaking to Fox News this week, she said, “If they don’t know how much vaccine they’re getting, not just this week but next week and the week after, they can’t plan. They can’t figure out how many sites to roll out, they can’t figure out how many vaccinators that they need, and they can’t figure out how many appointments to make for the public.”

Walensky added: “The fact that we don’t know today — five days into this administration and weeks into planning — how much vaccine we have, just gives you a sense of the challenges we’ve been left with.”

Biden, meanwhile, pledged to forge ahead with a massive $1.9 trillion stimulus package when he takes office in a government with a Democratic-controlled House and Senate. President Biden has outlined a goal of 100 million vaccinations in 100 days, which some analysts have said is a challenging amount of vaccinations given the bumpy rollout thus far. Other observers, meanwhile, have suggested his target is not ambitious enough .

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As of Wednesday, COVID-19 had infected more than 100.4 million people worldwide, which mostly does not account for asymptomatic cases, one of the major ways in which the virus has spread around the world so quickly. The virus had killed nearly 2.2 million globally, including at least 425,406 in the U.S. The U.S. has the world’s highest number of COVID-19 cases (25.4 million), followed by India (10.7 million), Brazil (8.9 million) and Russia (3.7 million), according to data aggregated by Johns Hopkins University.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA -1.11% , S&P 500 /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX -1.34%  and Nasdaq Composite /zigman2/quotes/210598365/realtime COMP -2.11%  were lower, as reports showed that lockdown measures to combat the pandemic are taking an economic toll in Europe, and as Biden’s proposed new round of fiscal stimulus ran into opposition in the Senate.

Another factor buoying up markets is progress on vaccine research — which, assuming the vaccines work, could eventually bring people back to their place of work. Biden is calling on Congress to provide the $160 billion for a national vaccination program, “expand testing, mobilize a public health jobs program, and take other necessary steps to build capacity to fight the virus,” according to a statement issued by his team.

BioNTech SE /zigman2/quotes/214419716/composite BNTX -2.16% and Pfizer /zigman2/quotes/202877789/composite PFE -0.55% said a final analysis of their vaccine candidate showed 95% efficacy. Meanwhile, Moderna /zigman2/quotes/205619834/composite MRNA +0.82%  said its own candidate was 94% effective. A vaccine candidate from AstraZeneca /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +0.15%  and the University of Oxford also showed an average efficacy of 70% in a pooled analysis of interim data, according to a peer-reviewed study published in December. That’s about the same level of protection as a flu vaccine.

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Quentin Fottrell is MarketWatch's personal-finance editor and The Moneyist columnist for MarketWatch. You can follow him on Twitter @quantanamo.

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