Reprinted with permission from Daily Kos
On the seventh day of his administration, Joe Biden stepped out to announce that he has purchased another 100 million doses of vaccine each from both Pfizer and Moderna. These doses won't arrive until summer, but added to the vaccine already purchased—and potential doses coming soon from Johnson & Johnson or others—there should be enough vaccine to get every American over 16 vaccinated. And then some.
As Biden said in his brief appearance, "I hope by the end of the summer we have too much vaccine left over. We have too much supplies left over. That's not my worry."
But Biden was also blunt that the nation is facing enormous challenges right now. Cases of COVID-19 are still very high. Both vaccines and supplies are in short supply. New variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are spreading rapidly, threatening to bring another spike of cases and strain every point of the nation's ability to fight the pandemic. Biden admitted that getting the vaccine was just one step, but he committed to making sure that the rest of the challenge was met.
Getting everyone vaccinated by summer or early fall means not just coming up with more doses, but increasing the rate of vaccination by two to three times. Biden pledged to meet that challenge. As first steps, he notified states that starting next week the number of doses going out will increase from about 8.5 million to 10 million a week. He also pledged to be clear to states about quantities they will be receiving so that each state can better plan how to efficiently distribute vaccine.
Biden mentioned several times his intuition to use the Defense Production Act, not just to secure more vaccine, but to make sure there are adequate supplies. That includes the vials and syringes needed for vaccination, personal protective equipment needed to protect healthcare workers, and swabs and reagents needed for testing.
Biden also continued to emphasize that in the near term, masks are a more valuable tool than vaccines. He repeated projections that having a high rate of mask-wearing just between now and April can save over 50,000 lives, and he took a swipe at Republicans who sneered at the idea of Biden's 100-day mask order, saying that real patriots wear a mask to protect their fellow citizens.
On travel restrictions, Biden made it clear that he wants universal testing of all travelers coming into the United States before they've left their origins, and isolation of travelers on arrival. This level of restriction is perhaps the only step that would work considering that numerous variants are now being carried around the world and bans against specific nations or regions have limited utility.
Overall, the theme of the appearance continues Biden's absolute commitment to address the COVID-19 crisis head on, and deliver for America the kind of effort that should have been there … over 400,000 lives ago.
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