The Borneo Post (Sabah)
US to have enough vaccines for adults by May
WASHINGTON: The United States will have enough Covid-19 vaccines for its adult population by the end of May, President Joe Biden said Tuesday, while Brazil’s troubles deepened as it registered its highest 24-hour death toll.
The two countries have the largest number of deaths in the world, with 515,000 coronavirus fatalities in the US and 255,000 in Brazil, with both counting the cost of mixed public health advice on masks and other measures.
The state of Texas took the contentious step Tuesday of lifting its mask mandate, despite dire warnings from US health authorities against states rolling back steps taken to restrict the spread of the pandemic.
Biden announced a major deal for pharma giant Merck to produce the vaccine shot developed by its rival Johnson & Johnson, hailing the accord as “the type of collaboration between companies we saw in World War Two.”
“We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” said the US leader – who previously targeted late July to amass sufficient doses to inoculate all Americans.
“That’s progress. Important progress. But it is not enough to have the vaccine supply,” Biden said, stressing that a huge effort still lay ahead to administer the vaccines once acquired.
Biden’s remarks came moments after Texas governor Greg Abbott lifted a state mask mandate and authorized businesses to open the state “100 per cent.”
“Now is not the time to let up,” warned the president, calling on Americans to keep social distancing and wearing masks, even as new coronavirus cases fall and more are vaccinated.
Abbott said he was lifting the restrictions in Texas because of the arrival of Covid-19 vaccines and better testing and treatments.
“For nearly half a year, most businesses have been open either 75 per cent or 50 per cent and during that time, too many Texans have been sidelined from employment opportunities,” he said.
“Too many small business owners have struggled to pay their bills... This must end. It is now time to open Texas 100 percent,” he said to cheers from his audience.
A scale of challenge confronting Brazil was highlighted on Tuesday when it registered a record 1,641 Covid-19 deaths in 24 hours.
Brazil has had a piecemeal pandemic response, with individual cities and states setting their own policies in the face of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro’s repeated attacks on restrictive measures and face masks.