Biden promises 100% adult US Covid-19 vaccine cover by May

Katie Ramirez
March 3, 2021

"I am directing every state to prioritize educators for vaccination", Biden said.

President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday that there will be enough supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to vaccinate every American by May.

Pharmaceutical giant Merck will help manufacture Johnson & Johnson's COVID-19 vaccine, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki announced, calling it "an unprecedented historic step", considering that the two companies are normally competitors.

Biden's announcements quickly raised expectations for when the nation could safely emerge from the pandemic with the promise of speedier vaccinations, but even as he expressed optimism, Biden quickly tempered the outlook for a return to life as it was before the virus hit.

"That production capacity won't yield doses most likely until the second half of this year, toward the end of the year", Nally said in an interview, explaining that there is a longer lead time for the equipment needed to make the drug substance.

Even as some states are choosing to lift their mask mandates, Baker said he has no plans to change Massachusetts' masking rule, which now requires face masks or face coverings in all public places, indoors or outdoors, regardless of the person's ability to social distance. There are 550,000 people fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, Gov. Charlie Baker said Monday morning, compared to 550,302 total confirmed COVID-19 infections since the start of the pandemic.

A spokesman for Baker said the governor continues to believe learning in a classroom poses a "very low risk" for COVID-19 transmission when proper safety protocols are followed, and noted that the Centers for Disease Control has said vaccines should not be considered a condition for reopening schools. "It's incredible", Biden said.

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Johnson & Johnson is under contract to deliver 100 million doses by June.

Under its contract, J&J was supposed to deliver 12 million doses by the end of February, but had less than four million ready to ship when the vaccine was authorised on Saturday.

This is the third COVID-19 vaccine approved for emergency use in the USA after those from Moderna and Pfizer/BioNTech.

In the scramble to create COVID-19 vaccines, the three Western drug makers who've dominated the vaccine industry for decades - Merck & Co., Sanofi and GlaxoSmithKline - surprisingly all fell short.

"We expect this manufacturing arrangement will enhance our production capacity so that we can supply beyond our current commitments", J&J said in a statement.

Biden couldn't account for the third shot when he last addressed the situation because it hadn't been granted emergency approval by the Food and Drug Administration at the time.

He said the USA government had invoked the Defence Production Act to help equip two Merck plants to make the J&J vaccine.

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