Days after marking a solemn milestone in the pandemic, President Joe Biden is celebrating the pace of his efforts to end it.
On Thursday, Biden marked the administration of the 50 million dose of COVID-19 vaccine since his swearing. The moment came days after the nation reached the devastating milestone of 500,000 coronavirus deaths and before a meeting with the country’s governors on plans to further accelerate distribution.
“The more people are vaccinated, the faster we will beat this pandemic,” Biden said at the White House ceremony, noting that his administration is about to exceed its promise to deliver 100 million shots in its first 100 days in office. .
“We are halfway there: 50 million shots in 37 days,” Biden said. “It’s weeks ahead of schedule.”
In total, more than 45 million Americans have been administered at least one dose of the approved vaccines from Pfizer and Moderna since receiving approval from the Food and Drug Administration in December, with more than 20 million receiving both required doses.
As part of the ceremony, four front-line workers – a couple 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 predicts that by late spring there will be enough vaccine to administer to anyone who wants it, but that doubt about the vaccine will limit the number of people who want it. “We have to wait for the vaccine,” said Biden, predicting that the point could be reached within 60 to 90 days.
He promised a “massive campaign to educate people” about the safety and efficacy of vaccines, hoping to stimulate demand, as the nation aims to vaccinate about 80% of adults to achieve herd immunity and end the pandemic.
Biden said he planned to tour a U.S. military-led mass vaccination site in Houston on Friday, one of several ways his administration aims to speed up injections, especially as supply increases.
Biden noted the promise that a third vaccine would be approved as soon as this weekend, as Johnson & Johnson’s single-dose candidate is being reviewed by the FDA.
“We have a plan to roll it out as fast as Johnson & Johnson can do,” Biden said.
Meeting with governors appealed to Biden for their help in sending its $ 1.9 trillion “American Rescue Plan,” which provides funding to expand vaccination and testing as well as financial relief for people fighting the pandemic.
“The economic toll of this pandemic continues to tear through our country as brutally as the virus itself,” Biden said.
Biden also warned that variants could continue to spread, leading to more cases and hospital stays. He appealed to Americans to keep up with social distancing measures and wear facial covers.
“It’s not time to relax,” he said.