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On Tuesday, Johns Hopkins University revealed that Covid-19 had infected more than 100 million people globally. That milestone comes a little over one year since the first case was confirmed in the United States. The U.S. now accounts for over one-quarter of those 100 million cases, even though it has only 4% of the world’s population.
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Biden was clear-eyed about the task ahead saying, “This will be one of the most difficult logistical challenges we’ve ever undertaken as a nation.” He also gave credit to the Trump administration for the work it did on developing vaccines. “That credit is absolutely due,” said Biden. He then announced three big initiatives.
“After review of the overall vaccine supply and manufacturing,” said Biden, “I can announce overall that we will increase weekly vaccine distribution to states from 8.6 million doses to 10 million doses starting next week. That’s an increase of 1.4 million doses per week. This is going to allow millions more Americans to be vaccinated.”
“We’re increasing the transparency with states, cities and tribes and local partners when it comes to the vaccine to vaccine supply. This is something that we’ve heard over and over again. Until now, we’ve had to guess how much vaccine for next week…This is unacceptable.”
Indeed, that guesswork has been evident this past week in the country’s most populous county. Los Angeles health officials have had to scale down the capacity of their vaccination sites from a planned 4,000 inoculations a day to 2,000-2,500. Why? They didn’t receive the vaccine supplies they’d been led to ecpect.
“From this week forward, God willing, we’ll ensure that states tribes and territories now always have a reliable three-week forecast,” said Biden.
“So, we will both increase the supply by more than 15% and give our states and local partners more certainty about when the vaccine will arrive.”
The announcement quickly met with praise from states.
“That’s competence,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo a short time later on CNN. “That’s taking the responsibility.”
“Now, the states will know what we’re getting week-to-week,” he observed. “At least now we can make a schedule for three weeks and schedule appointments and start to run on an efficient basis. Now you can give the American People a time table.”
Biden also announced that the federal government was hoping to soon announce the acquisition of 100 million additional doses of each of the two FDA approved vaccines. He estimated that they would be ready for delivery “mid-summer.”
The president said that agreement, when finalized, would increases the total number of vaccine doses by 50% to 600 million. That would be “Enough to vaccinate 300M Americans,” said Biden, putting the nation very close to herd immunity.