US President Joe Biden says the country expects to take delivery of enough coronavirus vaccine for all adults by the end of May.
If the president’s target, which was announced on Tuesday, comes true, then it would have been reached two months earlier than anticipated.
Addressing reporters in Washington, Mr. Biden urged states to get at least one shot into the arms of teachers by the end of May to hasten school reopenings.
He also announced that drug-maker Merck will help produce rival Johnson & Johnson’s newly approved one-jab vaccine, likening the partnership between the two drug companies to the spirit of national cooperation during World War II.
Administration officials have said despite the stepped-up pace of vaccine production, the work of inoculating Americans could extend well into the summer, depending both on the government’s capacity to deliver doses and Americans’ willingness to cooperate.
Mr. Biden’s announcements quickly raised expectations for when the nation could safely emerge from the pandemic, but the president quickly tempered the outlook for a return to life as it was before the virus struck.
“I’ve been cautioned not to give an answer to that because we don’t know for sure,” he said, before saying his hope for a return to normal was sometime before “this time next year.”
As Mr. Biden spoke, states across the country were moving to relax virus-related restrictions. This despite the objections of the White House and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who have warned against any relaxation of virus protocols until more Americans are vaccinated.
Dr. Fauci has previously said the nation must achieve a vaccination rate of about 80% to reach “herd immunity.” Only about 8% of the population has been fully vaccinated, The Associated Press reports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as saying.
Last Thursday and Friday, the US set a new daily record for injections.
However, the country remains the world’s worst-hit country, with just over 32 million cases and more than 560,000 deaths.