The U.S. reached 100 million vaccine doses administered for the coronavirus-borne illness COVID-19 Friday, a day after President Joe Biden used the anniversary of the day the World Health Organization declared a pandemic to pledge to make all Americans eligible for vaccination by May 1.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s vaccine tracker Friday afternoon revealed that vaccinations had pushed over the milestone mark. Biden had promised to get to 100 million vaccinations by his 100th day in office, which will be April 29, but said Thursday that they would do it in the first 60 days instead.
In his first address to the nation since taking office Thursday, Biden announced an expansion of efforts to accelerate the vaccine program, including deploying an additional 4,000 active-duty troops to support vaccination efforts and allowing more people — such as medical students, veterinarians and dentists — to deliver shots.
He is also directing more doses toward some 950 community health centers and up to 20,000 retail pharmacies, to make it easier for people to get vaccinated closer to their homes.
Biden said his administration will launch a website to help people find doses and raised the prospect of “independence from this virus” by the July 4 holiday, as the Associated Press reported.
Speaking in the White House East Room, Biden began by his 24-minute address by honoring the “collective suffering” of Americans over the past year and then offered them a vision for a return to a modicum of normalcy this summer.
“We are bound together by the loss and the pain of the days that have gone by,” he said. “We are also bound together by the hope and the possibilities in the days in front of us.”
The speech came just hours after Biden signed into law a $1.9 trillion relief package that he said will help defeat the virus, nurse the economy back to health and deliver direct aid to Americans struggling to make ends meet. Some will receive cash distributions as soon as this weekend.
The U.S. added at least 62,690 new cases on Thursday, according to a New York Times tracker, and at least 1,522 people died, with the death toll climbing above 530,000 Friday. The U.S. has averaged 56,613 new cases a day in the past week, down 18% from two weeks ago.
The CDC’s tracker showed that as of 6 a.m. ET Friday, 133.3 million doses had been distributed to states, 101.1 million doses had been administered and 66 million people had received at least one dose, equal to 19.9% of the population. Of that number, 35 million have received two doses and are fully vaccinated, equal to 10.5% of the population.
There are continued concerns about side effects, including blood clots, that have been detected in some of the countries that authorized and are using the vaccine developed by AstraZeneca PLC /zigman2/quotes/200304487/composite AZN +0.62% /zigman2/quotes/203048482/delayed UK:AZN +0.72% and Oxford University. On Thursday, Denmark, Norway, Iceland and Bulgaria paused their rollout of that vaccine and Austria stopped using a specific batch to investigate a post-vaccine death caused by blood clots, the AP reported.
On Friday, Italy, Romania and Thailand halted their use of the vaccine. France, Poland and Nigeria, meanwhile, said they would continue using the AstraZeneca shot even as national regulators investigate.
“At this stage, the benefit of vaccination is judged superior to the risk,” said France’s health minister, Olivier Veran.
The suspensions were the latest trouble for AstraZeneca, which had a public spat with the European Union earlier this year over supply delays and which also faced concerns about its efficacy in older adults. While EU regulators approved it for use in all adults, some countries have set age restrictions — though many are now lifting those. The trouble also comes as many EU countries have struggled to quickly ramp up vaccinations.