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Biden makes bullish promise that everyone who 'wants a vaccine will have it in spring': President pledges to vaccinate at least 200m in five months and says 'we can be well on our way to herd immunity by summer'

 Joe Biden said he believed that the U.S. will be able to offer vaccines to every American who wants one 'in spring,' Monday, amid questions over how ambitious his rollout for the shots is.

He also increased his goal of 1 million vaccines a day to 1.5 million Monday, predicting his administration would reach that point 'soon' - even though it had been surpassed already on the day he was inaugurated. 

And the president also predicted that the U.S. would be 'well on our way' to herd immunity by the summer, but warned that Americans will be dealing with the coronavirus pandemic into the fall. 

Setting a target of meeting demand for the vaccine would suggest offering enough doses for 200 million people, 60% of the population this spring - which officially ends on June 20. That would be a pace of at least 1.2 million doses a day between now and June 20 on the basis of one dose per person, while if those 200 million were to be fully immunized, it would take an average of 2.4 million doses a day.

So far the US has administered 22.4 million vaccine doses, which is 54 percent of the 41.4 million shots distributed to states by the federal government. Currently 6.8 percent of the US population has been vaccinated. 

The seven-day rolling average for daily vaccinations nationwide is currently at 1.2 million and a record 1.6 million doses were distributed on Biden's inauguration. 

Despite the sluggish start, the number of shots being handed out nationwide has only been increasing since the rollout began in mid-December under Trump's administration. Since January 1, the rolling average of vaccine doses per day has quadrupled. 

Biden identified spring as the season when everyone who wants a vaccine would get one – after his press secretary dodged the question hours earlier.

'I think it will be this spring. I think we'll be able to do that this spring,' he continued. 'But it's going to be a logistical challenge that exceeds anything we've ever tried in this country. But I think we can do that.'

Spring official begins on March 20 and ends June 20. Polling which suggests between 55% and 60% of people want vaccinated would mean that 

Asked if his initial target of 100 million doses in 100 days was not ambitious enough Biden said: 'So I'm quite confident that we will be in a position within the next three weeks or so to be vaccinating people at the range of a million a day or in excess of that. 

'I promised we would get at least 100 million vaccinations. That's not people. sometimes you need more than one shot, the vaccination.

'I think with the grace of God, the good will of the neighbor and the creek not rising, as the old saying goes, I think we may be able to get that to 1.5 million a day rather than 1 million a day,' Biden said. 

Vaccine promise: Joe Biden upped the target for vaccines to 1.5 million a day 'soon' amid questions over whether his incoming administration was lacking ambition, given 1.6m were distributed on the day of his inauguration

Vaccine promise: Joe Biden upped the target for vaccines to 1.5 million a day 'soon' amid questions over whether his incoming administration was lacking ambition, given 1.6m were distributed on the day of his inauguration 

Biden says all Americans should have access to vaccine by Spring
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The seven-day rolling average for daily vaccinations nationwide is currently at 1.2 million. More than 1 million COVID-19 vaccine shots have been handed out daily in US since Biden's inauguration

COVID-19 hospitalizations have now fallen to the lowest levels since mid-December and states have reported a sharp drop in new cases and deaths

COVID-19 hospitalizations have now fallen to the lowest levels since mid-December and states have reported a sharp drop in new cases and deaths

So far the US has administered 22.4 million vaccine doses. Pictured is a vaccine clinic in Seattle, Washington on Sunday at the Amazon Meeting Center

So far the US has administered 22.4 million vaccine doses. Pictured is a vaccine clinic in Seattle, Washington on Sunday at the Amazon Meeting Center

So far the US has administered 22.4 million vaccine doses, which is 54 percent of the 41.4 million shots distributed to states by the federal government. Currently 6.8 percent of the population has been vaccinated

So far the US has administered 22.4 million vaccine doses, which is 54 percent of the 41.4 million shots distributed to states by the federal government. Currently 6.8 percent of the population has been vaccinated


'I feel confident that by summer we're going to be well on our way to heading toward herd immunity and increasing the access for people who aren't on the list, all the way going down to children and how we deal with that. But I feel good about where we're going.' 

But he tempered his increased expectations with words of warning, noting it's still 'gonna take a long time to beat it.'

'We're in this for a while,' Biden said, repeating his prediction deaths would go up to between 600,000 and 660,000. They are currently over 410,000.

His words come after his CDC director warned that the administration's goal of 100 million shots in 100 days may be hindered by the supplies of vaccine doses, and the White House press secretary suggested that officials are unclear on exactly how much vaccine supply there is. 

'I think that the supply is probably going to be the most limiting constraint early on, and we're really hoping that after that first 100 days, we'll have much more production,' Rochelle Walensky, the the new director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said on 'Fox News Sunday.'

'We're really hoping we'll have more vaccine and that will increase the pace at which we can do the vaccinations,' she said.

Biden said as more people got vaccines the death rate would go down.

'It's beginning to move. But I'm confident we will beat this. We will beat this but we're still going to be talking about this in the summer. We're still going to be dealing with this issue in the early fall,' he said.

On Saturday, the United States reported more than 1.3 million newly administered doses of the COVID vaccine, and the tally was more than 1.1 million by late Sunday afternoon, marking the sixth day in a row the country has topped 1 million daily doses.

Biden also repeated his mantra that people should wear face masks.

'If we wear masks between now and the end of April, the experts tell us we can save 50,000 lives - 50,000 people who otherwise would die,' he noted.    

It comes as COVID-19 hospitalizations fell to the lowest levels since mid-December and states reported a sharp drop in new cases and deaths. On Sunday, there were 1,769 deaths and 130,485 new cases recorded. Just over 110,000 people were hospitalized with the virus. 

Even as he repeated his call to 'shut down' the virus, Biden talked about boosting testing to reopen schools with kindergarten through eighth grade safely.

'I believe we should make school classrooms safe and secure for the students, for the teachers and for the help that's in those schools maintaining those facilities,' Biden said.

His COVID relief plan is calling for new resources to disinfect schools and get them back open, in addition to demanding much more widespread testing.

'We need new ventilation systems in those schools. We need testing for people coming in and out of the classes. We need testing for teachers as well as students and we need the capacity, the capacity to know that in fact, the circumstance in the school is safe and secure for everyone,' he said.

He has ordered cabinet agencies to develop guidance for reopening schools. 'There's no reason why the clear guidance will be that every school should be thoroughly sanitized – from the lavatories to the hallways,' he said.

He also pushed back on the idea that teachers or teachers' unions don't want to reopen, although some school systems have featured tensions between parents and teachers concerned about risk of exposure.

'It's not so much about the idea teachers aren't going to work. The teachers I know, they want to work,' said Biden. 'They just want to work at a safe environment and as safe as we can rationally make it,' he said.

'And we can do that. We should be able to open up every school kindergarten through eighth grade if, in fact, we administer these tests.'     

Biden's acknowledgment of the need to ramp up the vaccine target comes after Dr Anthony Fauci, who is Biden's top COVID-19 adviser, has also said it was 'floor not ceiling' goal.  

To assist with the rollout, Google has just announced that it will offer up some of its US offices, car parks and open spaces as vaccination centers.

Google will also add COVID-19 vaccine location information to both Maps and Search to help people find more information on where and when they can get a jab. 

The tech giant's four main offices in the US - in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kirkland, Washington and New York City - will be turned into vaccine hubs in collaboration with healthcare provider One Medical. 

The office spaces are currently empty given Google's employees are working remotely until at least July. 

'Today we're announcing that we're providing more than $150 million to promote vaccine education and equitable distribution and making it easier to find locally relevant information, including when and where to get the vaccine,' Google CEO Sundar Pichai said. 

'We'll also be opening up Google spaces to serve as vaccination sites as needed.' 

He said searches for 'vaccines near me' has increased five-fold since the start of the year. As a result the tech giant is adding COVID-19 vaccine locations to both its traditional Search feature and Maps. 

'We'll include details like whether an appointment or referral is required, if access is limited to specific groups, or if it has a drive-through,' Pichai said. 

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