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‘We’re not packing our bags at 100 million’: Biden press secretary hits back at complaints Covid vaccine plan not enough

Danielle Zoellner
·3-min read
 (AP)
(AP)

The White House press secretary has responded to criticism from the public that Joe Biden’s plan to administer 100 million vaccines in 100 days was not enough, at a time when Covid-19 surges through the US.

“Our objective in setting that bold goal … is to set our own markers but also set markers for the American people,” Jen Psaki said on Good Morning America on Friday.

“But when we reach that goal, and we’re confident we will, we’re going to build from there. We’re not packing our bags at 100 million shots,” she added.

Mr Biden unveiled his national Covid-19 plan on Thursday, which included how his administration intended to get 100 million vaccines into the arms of Americans within 100 days.

But then he received questions on if that goal would be enough.

“When I announced it you all said it's not possible. Come on, give me a break, man,” Mr Biden said to a White House reporter.

In order to achieve the vaccine plan, the country would need to vaccinate one million Americans – either with the first or second dose of the vaccine – each day. But some experts have called for closer to two million vaccines to be administered each day in order for the country to receive herd immunity.

Dr Peter Hotez, the dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine, was one of those experts saying the country should aim for two million doses per day.

“We're going to need to vaccinate 240 million Americans by August with two doses,” he told The Independent. “That's going to translate the two million Americans every day.”

This timeline was in an effort to get the country back on track for the fall so students could return to school.

“Our nation has to be a nation that's willing to do hard things again,” Dr Hotez said. “So I think that's about as good a time as any to start getting back to some level of normalcy in the country.”

The federal government has distributed more than 37 million vaccines doses to states, but just 17.5 million doses have been administered as of Thursday morning, according to the CDC.

Part of Mr Biden’s mass vaccination campaign would provide more support to states in their efforts to administer the vaccine. This would include the federal government creating large vaccination centres across the US, sending more medical professional to states who could administer the vaccine, and prioritising minority communities.

Mr Biden wanted the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to create at least 100 vaccination centres within the next month.

Also, the president signed an executive order "directing relevant agencies to exercise all appropriate authorities, including the [Defense Production Act], to accelerate manufacturing, delivery, and administration to meet shortfalls in equipment and supplies needed for the Covid-19 response".

Relevant agencies would be responsible for producing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as gowns and masks, as well as necessary equipment to ramp up Covid-19 testing and vaccine manufacturing.

The Biden administration has hit the ground running in the first days in office to address the pandemic, but the president warned the situation would likely get worse in the coming months before it gets better.

“The death toll will likely top 500,000 next months. It’s going to take months for us to turn this around," Mr Biden said.

But he added that America would “get through this” and “defeat this pandemic”.

More than 410,000 Americans have died from the novel virus since the start of the pandemic at a time when the country was averaging over 4,000 new Covid-19 deaths per day.

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