Biden to urge making vaccines open to all adults by April 19

U.S. President Joe Biden wears a protective face mask after delivering remarks on March 15, 2021. (Yuri Gripas/ABACAPRESS.COM)U.S. President Joe Biden wears a protective face mask after delivering remarks on March 15, 2021. (Yuri Gripas/ABACAPRESS.COM)
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Jennifer Jacobs Bloomberg News (TNS)

President Joe Biden will announce Tuesday that he wants all American adults to be eligible for a coronavirus vaccine by April 19, two weeks earlier than his previous goal, a White House official said Tuesday.

Biden will also announce that 150 million doses of vaccine were administered within his first 75 days in office, keeping pace with his accelerated goal of getting 200 million shots into arms by his 100th day in office.

Almost half of U.S. states had opened vaccination to everyone 16 and older by the end of last week. That will rise to 36 by the end of this week. All 50 have now committed to opening eligibility to all adults by May 1, Biden’s previous goal. CNN reported that Biden is expected to credit governors’ effort to meet his earlier deadline for the updated goal.

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Biden’s administration has been racing to put shots in arms before a new outbreak erupts, as fresh variants of the virus that are more easily transmitted — and possibly more harmful once caught — spread throughout the U.S. One variant, known as B.1.1.7 and originally found in the U.K., is now the dominant variant in regions holding two-thirds of the U.S. population.

The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has warned of “impending doom” as cases have begun to rise again, fueled in part by states lifting some or all of their restrictions.

Anthony Fauci, a Biden medical adviser, said Tuesday that cases are increasing but don’t yet amount to a full new surge.

“There clearly is an increase,” Fauci, who is the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told MSNBC on Tuesday. “The difference factor that’s going on right now, that were different from the surges that we saw last year, is that we have a highly efficacious vaccine now.”

On Tuesday, the president will visit a vaccination site in Alexandria, Virginia, and then speak on the issue at the White House. Nationwide, vaccinations hit a seven-day average of more than 3 million a day last weekend, and the country logged a 4-million-shot Saturday.

More than 100 million Americans have gotten at least one dose, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, close to a third of the population. The daily rates are expected to rise further as vaccine-makers deliver a promised 700 million doses by the end of July, which is enough for 400 million people.

The U.S. has administered about a quarter of the shots given worldwide so far, buoyed by wartime powers that have allowed Biden and his predecessor to force U.S. vaccine makers to fill their orders first. About 62 million people in the U.S. have been fully vaccinated so far, including 30 million people over age 65, which accounts for 55% of that age group.

Fauci was asked about images from Texas, a state that has opened restrictions and where a baseball stadium appeared full on Monday night.

“We don’t want to declare victory prematurely because we have a virus out there now that’s variant and spreads really quite efficiently,” he said. “And if you pull back on masking and avoiding congregate setting, you’re really taking a pretty big risk.”

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