US will hit 100m vaccines on Friday – but there are reasons to be cautious

Joe Biden says he will meet his goal of delivering 100 million COVID-19 vaccine shots in his first 100 days of office by Friday – a major win for his presidency.

The push to get “shots in arms” has exceeded all expectations, with the target reached just 58 days after his inauguration – more than a month ahead of time.

About 2.5 million Americans are now being vaccinated every day, on average, according to federal data.

President Biden gave an update on the nation’s vaccination programme from the White House and said now was a time for “optimism” but not “relaxation”.

He also appealed to the American public to keep doing their bit to defeat the virus by sticking to health measures, such as social distancing, mask wearing and washing their hands.

If the country continues on this path, he added, relatively normal 4th of July celebrations are within “grasp”, as the vaccination programme is running well ahead of schedule.

Several million Americans are now getting the jab every day
Image:Several million Americans are now getting the jab every day

The address is part of a PR blitz by the White House to show that Mr Biden’s administration will bring the coronavirus under control through the application of “science and good management”.

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And if the pace of the vaccine rollout continues at the current rate, as many as 200 million Americans could be vaccinated by his 100th day in office – providing supply and delivery issues do not disrupt that trajectory.

The president is confident and said that, with the US on a “war footing” when it comes to producing vaccine, there will be enough supply for every adult by the end of May.

A US vaccination card
Image:Some 200 million Americans could be vaccinated by the president’s 100th day

It is a significant boost for the Biden administration, which promised that fighting the coronavirus would be a key strategic goal during his presidency.

The Biden team is promoting its $1.9trn pandemic relief package, which has also proved popular with voters and across party lines.

And the administration believes that by setting goals and reaching them, they can foster trust in their handling of the pandemic.

It is a sharp contrast in style to that of Donald Trump who declared in May last year: “We have met the moment and we have prevailed” as deaths from the disease surged.

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Many argue that Mr Trump’s handling of the pandemic cost him a second term in the White House; before COVID-19 became a part of the fabric of life his political fortunes looked strong.

The danger for President Biden is that with the success of the vaccine programme there will be a huge amount of pressure to open the country up quickly.

A devastating fourth wave of the virus could undo the hard yards already run – and the cost in political capital could be huge.

There are reasons to be cautious.

Fourteen states have seen infection rates rise over the last week and the country’s chief medical adviser, Anthony Fauci, has said the number of people contracting the virus is still “much too high to be declaring victory”.

Mark Gibson

Graduates in Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois 1990. Move to Los Angeles California in 2004. Specialized in Internet journalism.

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