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Joe Biden said on Thursday that 50 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine have been administered across the US since he took office last month, outpacing his administration’s goal to distribute 100m shots in his first 100 days in office.
The moment came days after the US reached the devastating milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths – far more than any other country in the world – and before a meeting with America’s governors on plans to speed vaccine distribution even further.
“The more people get vaccinated, the faster we’re going to beat this pandemic,” Biden said at the White House ceremony, noting that his administration is on course to exceed his promise to deliver 100 million shots in his first 100 days in office.
“We’re halfway there: 50 million shots in 37 days,” Biden said. “That’s weeks ahead of schedule.”
The Biden administration has been providing regular updates on its efforts to distribute coronavirus vaccines to states.
Jeff Zients, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus response team, said earlier this week that the administration distributed an average of 1.4m doses a day last week.
That number was slightly down from the 1.7m average doses a day distributed the week before, likely due to the severe winter storm that affected deliveries in the central US last week.
Regardless, the numbers make clear that the administration is outpacing its goal. Some health experts have said the White House should set a more ambitious target.
More than 45 million Americans have been administered at least one dose of the approved vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna since they received approval from the Food and Drug Administration in December, with more than 20 million receiving both required doses.
But Biden warned that variants could continue to spread, leading to more cases and hospitalizations. He appealed to Americans to keep up with social distancing measures and wear face coverings.
“This is not the time to relax,” he said.
Biden admitted he could not say when the country would return to normalcy.
“I can’t give you a date,” the president said. “I can only promise we will work as hard as we can to make that day come as soon as possible.”
As part of the ceremony, four frontline workers – a pair of emergency medical technicians, a school counselor and a grocery store worker – received vaccine doses on live television, part of the White House’s efforts to build confidence in the vaccination program.
Biden predicted that by late spring there will be enough vaccine to administer to anyone that wants it, but that hesitance of the vaccine will limit the number of people who want it.
“We’ll have the vaccine waiting,” Biden said, predicting that point could come within 60 to 90 days.
He promised a “massive campaign to educate people” about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines, in hopes of stimulating demand as the nation aims to vaccinate about 80% of adults to reach herd immunity and end the pandemic.
Biden said he planned to tour a US military-run mass vaccination site in Houston on Friday, one of several ways his administration is aiming to speed injections, particularly once supply increases.
Biden noted the promise of a third vaccine receiving approval as soon as this weekend, as Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose candidate undergoes review by the FDA.
“We have a plan to roll it out as quickly as Johnson & Johnson can make it,” Biden said.
Meeting with governors, Biden appealed for their help in passing his $1.9tn relief plan, which provides funding to expand vaccination and testing as well as economic relief for people struggling during the pandemic.
“The economic toll of this pandemic continues to tear through our country as brutally as the virus itself,” Biden said.
Associated Press contributed to this report
Source: The Guardian
Keyword: Biden hails 50m vaccine doses since he took office but warns US not to relax