WASHINGTON — President Joe Biden announced on Tuesday the United States would have enough Covid-19 vaccine doses for every adult American by the end of May, two months earlier than anticipated but still warned Americans to remain vigilant.
Biden announced on Tuesday drugmaker Merck & Co will help produce Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved vaccine. The President also announced he would be using the powers of the federal government to direct all states to make vaccinating teachers a top priority.
“We’re now on track to have enough vaccine supply for every adult in America by the end of May,” Biden said.
The President celebrated the unlikely partnership as a way to ramp up vaccine production, likening it to cooperation between corporations during World War II. While the news was positive, Biden also acknowledged the challenge of getting the shot into the arms of all Americans.
The White House said it was utilizing the Defense Production Act to erect two Merck facilities to manufacture the Johnson & Johnson shot. The decision came after administration officials realized that Johnson & Johnson would fall short of their manufacturing goals.
The announcement came just hours after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced he was lifting restrictions in Texas, making it the largest state to do so. This came against guidance from the CDC with the dangerous Brazilian variant of the virus in the state.
“We’re making progress from the mess we inherited. We’re moving in the right direction. And today’s announcements are a huge step in our effort to beat this pandemic. But I have to be honest with you, this fight is far from over,” Biden said.
Dr. Anthony Fauci has previously said the United States needs to achieve a vaccination rate of about 80 percent to reach “herd immunity.” As of this writing, about 8 percent of the population has been fully vaccinated according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
With Texas and Mississippi both easing restrictions in their respective states, Biden urged all Americans to remain patient and still wear a mask when it public since the majority of the country has not yet been vaccinated.
“Though we celebrate the news of a third vaccine, I urge all Americans, please keep washing your hands. Stay socially distanced. Wear masks, keep wearing them. Get vaccinated when it’s your turn. Now is not the time to let up,” Biden added.