“You have my word: we’ll handle the hell of this operation,” Biden said
Getting 100 million shots in the arms of Americans in his first 100 days is just the start of his coronavirus plan, President-elect Joe Biden has said.
A lasting impact, he said, will come from uniting the nation in a new, science-based effort fueled by billions of federal dollars for immunizations, testing, and epidemic detectors.
“You have my word: we will handle the hell of this operation,” Biden said on January 15. But he also stressed the need for Congress to approve more money and for people to continue to follow basic precautions, such as wearing masks. , avoiding gatherings and washing your hands frequently.
“It’s not a political issue,” Biden said. “It’s about saving lives. I know this has become a partisan issue, but what a stupid, stupid thing will happen. Mr Biden spoke a day after unveiling a $ 1.9 trillion “US bailout” to deal with the virus and provide temporary support for a fragile economy. About $ 400 billion of the plan focuses on measures to control the virus. These range from mass vaccination centers to more sophisticated scientific analyzes of new strains and squads of local health workers to trace contacts of those infected.
On Friday, Biden pledged to maximize the available supply of vaccines and the materials needed to administer them, using a Cold War-era law called the Defense Production Act to direct private manufacturing.
He also supported the Trump administration’s call earlier this week for states to start immunizing more older people, reaching 65 and older as well as younger people with certain health conditions. So far, states have focused on vaccinating healthcare workers, and some are starting to vaccinate people 75 and older. Relatively few provide injections to people between the ages of 65 and 75.
Another postponement of the Trump administration plan: Mr Biden said he intended to mobilize local pharmacies to administer vaccines.
Public health specialist and emergency physician Dr Leana Wen said Mr Biden should aim higher.
“At this point, mass vaccination is our last and best chance to restore normalcy,” she said. “There should be no expense spared in the deployment of the vaccine. One hundred million dollars in 100 days should only be seen as a start. As Mr Biden spoke, some governors criticized the Trump administration for what at least one called ‘deception’ by suggesting earlier this week that a supply of vaccine doses was ready to be shipped, increasing as well the supplies. An administration official said states still have not ordered all their assigned doses and called this a problem with states’ expectations.
Mr. Biden is committed to better communication with states, to avoid surprises about how much vaccine they can expect. His plan calls on the federal government to fully reimburse states that mobilize their national guard to help distribute vaccines.
The plan comes as a divided nation grips the most dangerous wave of the pandemic to date. So far, more than 3.89,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States
The political outlook for Mr Biden’s bailout remains unclear, although a powerful business lobby group has welcomed its focus on controlling the pandemic.
Mr Biden has long argued that economic recovery is inextricably linked with control of the coronavirus.
This fits with the judgment of the American Chamber of Commerce, the most powerful business lobbying group and traditionally an adversary of Democrats. “We need to defeat COVID before we can restore our economy and that requires supercharging our vaccination efforts,” the House said Thursday night in a statement that welcomed Mr Biden’s plan but declined to endorse it.
As part of Mr Biden’s multi-pronged viral strategy, around $ 20 billion would be allocated for a more disciplined focus on vaccination, in addition to the roughly $ 8 billion already approved by Congress. Mr Biden called for setting up mass vaccination centers and sending mobile units to hard-to-reach areas.
On Friday, he announced that former FDA chief David Kessler was his scientific director for the vaccination campaign. Mr Kessler advised Mr Biden as co-chair of his advisory board on the coronavirus pandemic. A pediatrician and lawyer, he stressed the need to allay public concerns about the safety of coronavirus vaccines. Confidence in the FDA review process is essential to ramping up efforts to vaccinate millions of Americans.
With the support of Congress and the expertise of private and government scientists, the Trump administration has delivered two highly effective vaccines and more are on the way. Yet, a month after the administration of the first vaccines, the nation’s immunization campaign got off to a slow start with around 12.3 million doses administered out of more than 31 million delivered, or 39%.
About 10.6 million people received a first or second dose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the American Hospital Association estimates that nearly 246 million people need to be vaccinated to achieve generalized or “herd” immunity by the summer. Currently available vaccines require injections to be fully effective.
Mr Biden called the vaccine rollout a “dismal failure so far.” “We need to get over 3 million vaccines a day, quickly,” Dr Wen said.
The plan also includes $ 50 billion to expand testing, which is seen as key to reopening most schools by the end of the first 100 days of the new administration. About $ 130 billion would be allocated to help schools reopen without risking further contagion.
The plan would fund the hiring of 1,00,000 public health workers, to focus on encouraging people to get vaccinated and on contact tracing of people infected with the coronavirus.
There is also a proposal to boost investment in gene sequencing, to help track new strains of the virus, including the more contagious variants identified in the UK and South Africa.
Throughout the plan, the focus is on ensuring that minority communities that have borne the brunt of the pandemic are not deprived of vaccines and treatments, aides said.
With the new proposals comes a call to redouble efforts at the grassroots.
Mr Biden is calling on Americans to shift their sense of pandemic fatigue and recommit to wearing masks, practicing social distancing and avoiding indoor gatherings, especially larger ones. It’s still the safest way to slow the COVID-19 wave, with more than 4,400 deaths reported on Tuesday alone.