President Joe Biden on Thursday commemorated 50 million Covid-19 vaccine doses administered since he took office, using it as a measuring stick against his promise to put 100 million shots in people’s arms in his first 100 days. But he also warned there’s “a long way to go” before life will return to normal.
“The more people get vaccinated, the faster we’re gonna beat this pandemic,” Biden said. “We’re moving in the right direction, though, despite the mess we inherited from the previous administration, which left us with no real plan to vaccinate all Americans.”
The United States has administered a total of about 66.5 million vaccine doses, according to data issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday.
Biden was joined Thursday by Vice President Kamala Harris, White House Covid-19 task force coordinator Jeff Zients and registered nurse Elizabeth Galloway, who administered first doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to four front-line workers.
Biden said nearly 50% of Americans over the age of 65 and 75% of long-term care recipients have received at least one dose.
But he cautioned it “is not a time to relax,” given the emergence of new variants.
“This not a victory lap. Everything is not fixed. We have a long way to go. And that day when everything is back to normal depends on all of us,” Biden said, plugging his $1.9 trillion Covid-19 relief plan.
More than 500,000 Americans have died from coronavirus.
The President also took the opportunity to highlight promising data surrounding the efficacy of a single-dose Covid-19 vaccine from Johnson & Johnson.
“Now, let me be clear, we are going to do this the right way,” Biden said. “The FDA will decide on emergency use authorization of a vaccine based on science, not due to any political pressure from me or anyone else — no outside factors.”
But, he said, if the Food and Drug Administration authorizes the new vaccine, “we have a plan to roll it out as quickly as Johnson & Johnson can make it.”
Zients said Wednesday that the Biden administration is preparing rollout plans for 3 million to 4 million doses of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine next week, pending authorization.