Biden hints at new vaccination target

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President Joe Biden on Friday said he’s setting his sights higher on the pace of vaccinating Americans, one day after he announced that the United States is on track to well surpass his goal of administering 100 million doses during his first 100 days in office.

Now the administration “may be able to double it,” Biden told reporters before departing for Atlanta, Ga., where eight people — including six Asian women — were shot and killed earlier this week.

“We hope we can keep the pace,” Biden said Friday. “We met the goal, and we’re continuing to move forward.”

On Thursday Biden touted the mass vaccination campaign’s progress and promised to unveil a new goal sometime next week.

“These milestones are significant accomplishments, but we have much more to do,” he said in an address from the White House. “This is a time for optimism, but it’s not a time for relaxation.”

At the onset of his tenure, Biden frequently defended the ambitiousness of the 100-million-dose milestone and criticized the media for trying to have it both ways after his goal was met by skepticism in some corners when it was first announced.

Including shots administered during the tail end of former President Donald Trump’s tenure, roughly 116 million doses have gone out to people across the country, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Nearly 30 percent of all adults have received at least one dose.

The country is now administering nearly 2.5 million doses per day, according to recent federal data. That figure is expected to continue to increase as a third vaccine, a one-dose version manufactured by Johnson & Johnson, becomes more widely available.

The federal government has placed orders for roughly 800 million doses, split between Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. Enough doses to inoculate every American adult are expected to arrive by the end of May, though it will take additional time to get those shots into people’s arms.

Biden on Thursday said they’re looking to July 4 as a date when a sense of normalcy could arrive if vaccinations continue apace and Americans continue to practice social distancing and mask wearing.

Critical indicators, including the rate of new cases, hospitalizations and deaths, have dropped after a surge earlier this winter. However, health officials remain concerned about new outbreaks in a number of states that have begun lifting restrictions put in place to combat the virus’ spread.

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