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President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that the United States is “on track” to produce enough vaccines for every adult in the country by the end of May, marking an acceleration in his most recent timeline that planned to reach this stage by the end of July. In a brief speech at the White House, Biden detailed the partnership between his administration and Johnson & Johnson that would provide support to the company and its partners, including pharmaceutical company Merck & Co., to make vaccines at an accelerated pace.
“As a consequence of the stepped-up process that I’ve ordered and just outlined, this country will have enough vaccine supply — I’ll say it again — for every adult in America by the end of May,” said Biden. “By the end of May. That’s progress — important progress.”
But this new timeline does not mean that all adults in the U.S. will be vaccinated by the end of May, as the vaccination rate currently is about 1.74 million doses administered every day. Already, more than 76 million doses have been given, meaning that about 15.3% of the population is vaccinated. But, the U.S. does currently remain on track to meet Biden’s pledge of delivering 100 million coronavirus vaccines in his first 100 days in office.
Biden previously said there would be enough vaccines for every American by the end of July, but according to The New York Times, his administration had already laid the groundwork to produce enough vaccines for 260 million eligible adults by the end of May. However, this new timeline matches an example used a couple of weeks ago by Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
“You can say, let’s say in May, vaccines are going to be widely available to almost anybody…but it may take to June, July, and August to finally get everyone vaccinated,” Fauci told CNN. “So when you hear about how long it’s going to take to get the overwhelming population vaccinated, I don’t think anybody disagrees that that’s going to be well to the end of summer and we get in the early fall.”
What will be the real test is how this accelerated timeline interacts with states like Texas and Mississippi rushing to fully reopen. Cases have been falling nationwide, but the drop has leveled off in the last week or so, reports BBC, fuelling fears of another wave.
In the meantime, Biden also called on states to prioritize educators and school staff in the vaccination schedule by designating them as essential workers. Specifically, the president is asking that anyone working at a grade-school or in child care receive at least one dose of vaccine by the end of March.
“As yet another move to help accelerate the safe reopening of schools, let’s treat in-person learning like an essential service that it is. And that means getting essential workers who provide that service — educators, school staff, child care workers — get them vaccinated immediately. They’re essential workers,” said Biden.
So while this news is definitely something to celebrate. It will still be months after production has met demand before everyone has a chance to get both doses.
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