Biden’s vaccine battles
President celebrates jab milestone but experts say pace is still too slow
WASHINGTON: President Joe Biden celebrated 50 million COVID-19 vaccines administered since he took office, saying the rollout is “weeks ahead of schedule” but experts say the pace is still too slow.
Mr Biden came into office promising 100 million shots administered in his first 100 days, a target critics said was insufficiently ambitious, but the White House says it is now on track easily to exceed.
“We’re moving in the right
direction despite the mess we inherited,” Mr Biden said, referring to the chaotic situation under his predecessor Donald Trump.
The US is the world’s hardest-hit country, with the number of coronavirus deaths crossing the 500,000 mark earlier this week.
But the Democratic president noted that the pace of the rollout had “doubled” during his six weeks in power and said that distribution of vaccines to authorities across the states had risen 70 per cent.
Promising that the government was “laser focused on the greatest operational challenge this country’s ever undertaken,” Mr Biden said that there would be “enough supply for all adult Americans by the end of July.” Despite falling COVID-19 cases and the improvement in the vaccinations program, “this is not a time to relax”, he warned.
“We must keep washing our hands, stay socially distanced and for God’s sake, for God’s sake, wear a mask,” he said.
Mr Biden won the election in November partly on his pledge to take the pandemic seriously and ramp up the vaccination program.
However, according to some health experts, the US should be targeting 2.85 million vaccines a day to reach herd immunity by mid-July.
Critics say Mr Biden set the bar too low, but the White House replied that he didn’t want to over-promise.
When he entered the White
House, only 16.5 million Americans had received the vaccine.
“America has administered the most shots of any country in the world with among the highest percentage of people fully vaccinated. That’s the progress we promised,” he said.
The White House has given differing estimates of when the pandemic will be fully under control. Most recently, Mr Biden has suggested Christmas will see people in a “very different circumstance”.