Fewer COVID Vaccine Doses Materialized Last Fall Than The U.S. Government Hoped : Short Wave Manufacturers can expect to face unforeseen hurdles when they begin to mass-produce a brand new pharmaceutical product, and in a pandemic, there are bound to be supply chain problems as well. But in late 2020, Pfizer was delivering fewer doses than the government expected and then-federal officials told NPR they did not know why.

Fewer COVID Vaccine Doses Materialized Last Fall Than The U.S. Government Hoped

Fewer COVID Vaccine Doses Materialized Last Fall Than The U.S. Government Hoped

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Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, second from right, speaks during a news conference on Operation Warp Speed in January, 2021. With Azar from left are Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief science adviser to Operation Warp Speed, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed. Patrick Semansky/AP hide caption

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Patrick Semansky/AP

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, second from right, speaks during a news conference on Operation Warp Speed in January, 2021. With Azar from left are Dr. Moncef Slaoui, chief science adviser to Operation Warp Speed, Dr. Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and U.S. Army Gen. Gustave Perna, chief operating officer of Operation Warp Speed.

Patrick Semansky/AP

Operation Warp Speed was the Trump administration's effort to produce a COVID-19 vaccine in record time--when usually it takes years to produce a new vaccine. Manufacturers can expect to face unforeseen hurdles when they begin to mass-produce a brand new pharmaceutical product, and in a pandemic, there are bound to be supply chain problems as well. But in late 2020, Pfizer was delivering fewer doses the government expected and then-federal officials told NPR they did not know why.

NPR pharmaceuticals correspondent Sydney Lupkin talks with Emily about her investigation into Operation Warp Speed expectations versus its realities.

Read more of Sydney's in-depth story here.

This episode was produced by Brit Hanson, fact-checked by Indi Khera and edited by Gisele Grayson.