Jim Cramer worries White House transition could complicate vaccine distribution

A syringe is seen by the logo of Pfizer’s headquarter in Manhattan, New York City, United States on November 19, 2020.

Tayfun Coskun | Anadolu Agency | Getty Images

CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Monday gave a forecast of how he projects that the complex coronavirus vaccine distribution process will turn out.

“My bet is that the vaccine will be readily available, at least, by March,” the “Mad Money” host said. “I just wish we had a clear plan to get there because this is too important to risk screwing up.”

Multiple vaccine studies have been reported to be near completion as companies report their late-stage trial analyses, led by Pfizer and its partner BioNTech, in the race to produce a Covid-19 inoculation.

Pfizer, which has submitted an application for emergency use authorization to the Food and Drug Administration, said its candidate is 95% effective.

Moderna‘s vaccine is said to be 94% effective, while AstraZeneca‘s vaccine study with Oxford University also showed promising results.

Army Gen. Gustave Perna is the COO of Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s public-private vaccine response arm, who’s in charge of distribution across the country — but the White House wants states to handle the last leg of the process. Cramer worries federalism could cause a bottleneck, slowing down the supply chains.

So far, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has announced that his state would prioritize health-care and frontline workers for vaccines, along with the most vulnerable populations.

“If it all works out, I can see the Department of Defense getting 300 million doses of various vaccines rather soon,” Cramer said. “The general says they already have warehouses that are filled with them, although he won’t say how many vials. Still, that’s what we want to hear.”

During the “Mad Money” segment, Cramer traced how the U.S. Army is expected, presumably, to hand over the Covid-19 vaccines to McKesson, the pharmaceutical distribution giant. From there, some vials will be delivered to frontline workers in the pandemic, while others to FedEx and United Parcel Service to be delivered to pharmacies like CVS Health and Walgreens.

Still, many questions remain unanswered, Cramer warned, including which populations will be prioritized for vaccination, vaccine storage capabilities and the process of administering the shots.

“None of these questions has been answered, which is why I think we’re headed for a period of controlled chaos,” Cramer said. “Very hard to imagine this process working smoothly, especially with a presidential transition coming right in the middle, no sign of cooperation whatsoever as the current president has yet to signal that he lost.”

Disclosure: Cramer’s charitable trust owns shares of CVS Health and UPS.

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