WASHINGTON (AP) – President-elect Joe Biden will release most of the COVID-19 vaccine doses available to speed up delivery to more people, a reversal of Trump administration policy, his office said on Friday.
“The president-elect believes we need to speed up vaccine distribution while continuing to ensure that Americans who need it most get it as quickly as possible,” spokesman TJ Ducklo said in a statement. Biden “supports the immediate release of available doses and believes the government should stop withholding vaccine supplies so we can get more vaccines in the arms of Americans now.”
As part of the Trump administration’s approach, the government has withheld the vaccine supply to ensure people can get a second vaccine, which provides maximum protection against COVID-19. The Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna vaccines require a second injection approximately three weeks after the first vaccination. Single injection vaccines are still being tested.
After a glimmer of hope when the first vaccines were approved last month, the country’s vaccination campaign got off to a slow start. Of the 29.4 million doses distributed, about 5.9 million were administered, or 27%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Biden has already indicated his displeasure. In a speech last week, before his electoral victory was certified by Congress, the president-elect said he intended to speed up vaccinations by asking the federal government to play a greater role in s ‘ensure that vaccines are not only available, but that vaccines are in progress. in the arms of more Americans.
“The Trump administration’s plan to distribute vaccines is lagging far behind,” Biden said. “If he continues to move as he is now, it will take years, not months, to vaccinate the American people.”
The American Hospital Association estimates that the country would need to vaccinate 1.8 million people per day, every day, from Jan. 1 to May 31, to meet the goal of generalized immunity by the summer. It is also called “herd immunity” and would involve vaccinating at least 75% of the population.
Without giving details, Biden said his administration would implement a much more aggressive vaccination campaign, with greater involvement and leadership from the federal government, and the goal of delivering 100 million vaccines in the first 100. days.
Total coverage: Coronavirus pandemic
He said he and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris had discussed with state and local heads a coordinated approach that dovetails with the efforts of governments at all levels. Among the specificities: the opening of vaccination centers and the sending of mobile vaccination units to hard-to-reach communities.
“The main thing is that there is no coordinated national plan,” Biden adviser Dr Rick Bright told The Associated Press.
Ducklo said Biden will share additional details next week on how his administration will engage with the pandemic when he takes office on January 20.
Biden’s plan to change the vaccine distribution plan was first reported by CNN.