Joe Biden has said the US hopes to have enough coronavirus vaccines for all adults by the end of May, two months ahead of schedule, as his administration announced that drugmaker Merck would help produce Johnson’s newly approved vaccine. & Johnson.
With the beefed up supply, Biden also announced that he would use the powers of the federal government to order all states to prioritize vaccinating teachers and said the federal government would provide the doses directly through its pharmacy program.
He challenged states to administer at least one dose of the vaccine to all educators by the end of March as part of his administration’s efforts to reopen more schools across the country.
“We are now on track to have a sufficient supply of vaccines for all adults in America by the end of May,” Biden said.
The president described the partnership between the two drug companies as a “major step forward” in expanding access to vaccines for all Americans, and compared the partnership to the spirit of national cooperation during World War II.
Before the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which received FDA approval over the weekend, Biden had said the country would have enough vaccines for all Americans in July. He credited his administration’s efforts with advancing that timeline.
The announcements of the Biden twins quickly raised expectations of when the nation could safely emerge from the pandemic with the promise of additional vaccines, but highlighted the looming challenge facing the nation: successfully weaponizing those doses.
Even when expressing optimism, Biden quickly shifted the prospect of a return to life as it was before the virus arrived.
“I’ve been warned not to give an answer to that because we don’t know for sure,” Biden said, before saying his hope was sometime before “this time next year.”
Biden’s speech on Tuesday came against a backdrop of states moving to relax their virus-related restrictions, despite health officials warning against loosening Covid protocols too quickly.
In Texas, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott moved to lift his state’s mask-wearing mandate and a host of other limitations, while Michigan’s Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer lowered capacity limits on restaurants and public gatherings. and residential. Mississippi is also rescinating its mask mandates starting tomorrow, Republican state governor Tate Reeves announced Tuesday.
Biden encouraged all Americans to continue wearing masks to limit the spread of the coronavirus, saying, “Now is not the time to give in.”
“There is light at the end of the tunnel,” said the president, but “it is not over yet.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, had already raised the alarm about new variants of the virus and spoke out against any relaxation of virus-related restrictions until more Americans are vaccinated. Fauci has said that the nation must achieve a vaccination rate of around 80% to achieve “herd immunity.”
Only about 8% of the population has been fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, although the rate of vaccination has been increasing, and the US set a new daily record for injections on both Thursday like Friday of last week.
More injections are also being directed toward the federally-backed program to administer doses at retail pharmacies, which federal officials believe may double or triple their vaccination rate. More than 800,000 doses of the J&J vaccine will also be distributed to pharmacies this week, in addition to the 2.4 million they are now receiving from the supply of Pfizer and Moderna vaccines.
The Associated Press contributed reporting
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism