President Joe Biden said most Americans should be able to receive a coronavirus vaccine by spring, following his administration’s efforts to distribute 100 million Covid-19 vaccines within his first 100 days in office.
Distributing vaccines to millions of Americans will be a “logistical challenge that exceeds anything we’ve ever tried in this country, but I think we can do that,” the president said on Monday.
“I feel confident that by summer we’re gonna be well on our way to heading toward herd immunity,” or roughly 300 million Americans vaccinated, he said.
The president added that the administration will also be increasing access for people who are not “first on the list” for vaccines, including children.
He said his administration hopes to distribute up to 1.5 million doses per day “within the next three weeks or so.”
Scientists are still determining the threshold for herd immunity with Covid-19; Dr Anthony Fauci said this month that on-track vaccinations through the spring and summer could provide a “degree of protection” into the fall.
The administration has projected the nation’s death toll could surpass 600,000 lives lost in the public health crisis “before we begin to turn the corner in a major way.”
More than 420,000 Americans have died within the last year since the pandemic’s onset, according to Johns Hopkins University. Health officials have confirmed more than 25.2 million infections.
The president has urged Americans to wear masks in public spaces – doing so between now and April can save 50,000 lives, he said.
On his first day in office, the president imposed a mask mandate on federal property, and he has urged state and local governments to implement similar measures under their authority.
“I’m confident we will beat this,” he said, “but we will still be dealing with this in the early fall.”
The president has urged Congress to move swiftly on his $1.9 trillion relief legislation, which includes $400 billion for vaccines, testing and aid for schools to safely re-open.
“I prefer these things to be bipartisan because I’m trying to generate some consensus and take sort of the, how can I say it, the vitriol out of all of this,” the president said on Monday.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that Congress should pass a relief measure by March as the US approached a benefits “cliff” when extended unemployment relief expires.
“We are going to hit a cliff, an unemployment insurance cliff, in March, where millions of people won’t be able to have access to unemployment insurance,” she said.
The president’s legislation proposes adding $400 in weekly federal unemployment benefits through September. Without an extension, roughly 11 million Americans could be cut off from benefits.