In first 100 days in office, Joe Biden announces plan to vaccinate 100 million Americans
Washington, Jan 16: US President-elect Joe Biden has announced an ambitious goal of inoculating 100 million Americans with COVID-19 vaccines in the first 100 days of his administration, noting that the vaccine rollout in the country, the worst hit by the pandemic, has been a "dismal failure."
Ahead of his inauguration on January 20, Biden on Friday held a briefing with his team on addressing the major health crisis that has engulfed the nation for nearly a year now. The US is the worst-affected country in the world with more than 23,523,000 COVID-19 infections and 391,955 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus tracker.
During his election campaign, Biden, a Democrat, made tackling COVID-19 and the economic hardships it had put on Americans a core pitch to voters. "The vaccine rollout in the United States has been a dismal failure thus far and in today's briefing we discussed five things, five things we will do in an attempt to turn things around, five things to turn frustration into motivation, five things to help us meet our goal of 100 million shots by the end of our first 100 days in office. Some wonder if we are reaching too far for that goal. Is it achievable? It's a legitimate question to ask," Biden told reporters in Wilmington, Delaware.
"Let me be clear; I am convinced we can get it done, and this is the time to set big goals to pursue them with courage and conviction because the health of the nation is literally at stake. First, we will immediately work with states to open up vaccinations to more priority groups," he said.
Biden said that the process of establishing priority groups is driven by science, but the problem is the implementation has been too rigid and confusing. "If you were to ask most people today, they couldn't tell you who exactly is getting vaccinated. What they do know is there are tens of millions of doses of vaccine sitting unused in freezers around the country while people who want and need the vaccine can't get it," he said.
Exuding confidence, Biden said that his administration will fix the problem by encouraging states to allow more people to get vaccinated beyond healthcare workers and move through those groups as quickly as they think they can. That includes anyone 65 years or older, a population that has accounted for over 80 per cent of the deaths to date.
He said his administration will always be "honest and transparent about where we stand, both the good news as well as the bad. We're going to make sure state and local officials know how much supply they'll be getting and when they can expect to get it so they can plan."
"Right now, we're hearing that they can't plan because they don't know how much supply of vaccines they can expect at what time frame. That stops when we're in office," Biden said.