Biden vows enough vaccine for all US adults by end of May

Biden vows enough vaccine for all US adults by end of May

Washington DC: President Joe Biden said Tuesday that the US expects to take delivery of enough Coronavirus vaccines for all adults by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated, as his administration announced that drugmaker Merck & Co. will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson's newly approved shot.

With the bolstered supply, Biden also announced he would be using the powers of the federal government to direct 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 nation.

"We're now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May," said Biden, who likened the partnership between the two drug companies to the spirit of national cooperation during World War II. Biden's twin announcements quickly raised expectations for when the nation could safely emerge from the pandemic with the promise of additional vaccines, but it highlighted the looming challenge facing the nation: successfully putting those doses into arms.

Even as he expressed optimism, Biden quickly tempered the outlook for a return to life as it was before the virus hit.

"I've been cautioned 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 was set against the backdrop of states across the country moving to relax virus-related restrictions. This comes despite the objections of the White House and the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr Anthony Fauci, who have raised alarm about new variants of the virus and pleaded against any relaxation of virus protocols until more Americans are vaccinated.

In Texas, GOP Governor Greg Abbot moved to lift his state's mask-wearing mandate and a host of other limitations. Michigan's Democratic Governor Gretchen Whitmer eased capacity limits on restaurants and both public and residential gatherings.

Fauci has previously said the nation must achieve a vaccination rate of about 80 per cent to reach "herd immunity." Only about 8 per cent of the population has been fully vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, though the pace of vaccination has been increasing, with the US setting a new daily record for injections on both Thursday and Friday of last week.

In hopes of increasing vaccinations even further, the Biden administration told governors to make preparations to administer even more doses in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, President Joe Biden on Tuesday said he hopes that the United States, the country hit hardest by the COVID-19 pandemic, would be normal by the same time next year. "When do I think things will get back to normal? I've been cautioned not to give an answer to that because we don't know for sure. But my hope is, by this time next year, we're going to be back to normal," Biden told reporters at the White House.

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